Archives for October 2019

East Erie Turners

Preservation Watch List

829 Parade Street, Erie

Many German clubs were organized in the mid-19th century as benevolent societies, singing societies, and fraternal organizations. Philharmonia Hall at 9th and Parade was built in 1873 and taken over by the East Erie Turn Verein in 1880. The current building was built in 1890.

Per the club’s founders – Moomy, Ohler, Kuntzle, Weber, Steimer, Waggner, Gross, and Detzel – the original focus of the verein (club) was to promote athletic excellence. In 1919, the club was renamed East Erie Turners.

As industry, manufacturing, and transportation grew Erie’s overall economy through the mid-20th century, East Erie Turners became a popular post-workday gathering place. At its peak, the club’s membership exceeded 5,000 individuals.

In 1970, East Erie Turners signed an agreement to sponsor Gem City Bands, a collection of big-band musicians and conductors. Gem City Bands regularly played at East Erie Turners, and, during its peak in the 1980s, drew crowds of 400 people or more per concert.

The club was hit hard in 2014 when a shooting occurred just outside their doors. Even long-standing patrons feared visiting, and East Erie Turners closed shortly after the incident.

Today, East Erie Turners remains closed with no plans to reopen.

Girard Hotel

Preservation Watch List

262 Main Street West, Girard

The oldest hotel in the borough, the Girard Hotel was built between 1855 and 1870 and served the community for more than a 100 years.

One of the more colorful stories to come from the hotel involved famed circus man Dan Rice. According to local lore, Rice frequented the hotel’s bar, and upon being kicked out one day, he returned with his circus lion to scared folks away so that he could drink in peace.

The Girard Hotel is located just outside the proposed Girard Historic District, which was determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

A fire in the 1950s destroyed the third floor and mansard roof. Rather than replace the the third floor, a flat roof was installed over top of the second floor.

The Girard Hotel has been closed for more than a decade, and, even though the current owner has expressed interest in rehabilitating the structure, it has sat as-is for all of this time.

Recently, the Borough of Girard began proceedings to declare it a blighted property with the intent to demolish the Girard Hotel.