Joshua C. Thornton House

West Lake Road, Fairview Township

The Thornton house was built in 1870 by Joshua C. Thornton, who amassed great personal wealth through farming. It is a great example of the Italianate/Italian Villa architectural style. This home has been determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in the area of Architecture. It is one of just over 300 remaining examples of the Italianate style in Erie County, and the Thornton house represents the most common subtype in Erie County, which is the square building with a hipped or pyramidal roof capped by a cupola and featuring projecting eaves with decorative brackets. The home also reflects the rich agricultural history of Fairview Township and Erie County as a whole.

The Thornton house is located on West Lake Road in Fairview Township and is owned by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, which acquired the property in 1972. The Commission recently submitted project plans to the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office for review that call for the demolition of the Joshua C. Thornton House. In response, the PA SHPO issued a letter which included the following statement, “The Joshua C. Thornton is a rare remaining example of Italianate style architecture in this region. Therefore, it is necessary to consider options for its preservation. Please provide documentation of consideration of a variety of alternatives that avoid or minimize effects to the identified historic properties. The analysis should clearly state the problems to be solved/needs of the project and outline with supporting data the alternatives considered. The analysis should provide sufficient data and supporting documentation to demonstrate why a particular alternative is or is not viable. The data should not be manipulated to support a predetermined outcome; rather, the selection of the preferred alternative should be supported by the data itself.”

Preservation Erie has also written to the PA Fish and Boat Commission in support of alternatives to demolition of the Joshua C. Thornton House.

Read Preservation Erie’s letter.

Read the PA State Historic Preservation Office’s letter.

Read the Fairview Area Historical Society’s letter.

Concerned citizens who wish to voice their opinion on the matter may use these letters as templates and submit their own letters to the PA Fish and Boat Commission. Contact information for the PA Fish and Boat Commission is included in the sample letters.

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