Walking Tour of Historic Erie Pennsylvania
This walking tour includes several historic buildings and museums including the Erie Federal Courthouse, Dickson Tavern, Erie Trust Company Building, and the Erie Maritime Museum.
Renaissance Centre, formerly known as the Erie Trust Company Building and the G. Daniel Baldwin Building, is a 198-foot skyscraper located in Erie. Since its completion, the 14-story building has been the tallest in Erie. Intended to be the headquarters for the largest bank in Erie, the Erie Trust Company Building was designed by the firm Dennison and Hiron in 1925. Completed in 1928 at the climax of the Roaring Twenties, the building's namesake bank failed in 1933 after the start of the Great Depression. It was renamed the G. Daniel Baldwin Building in 1943 and then in 1996, it became Renaissance Centre.
The Warner Theatre is an Art Deco and French Renaissance-styled theater located in downtown Erie. The Warner was designed by Chicago-architects Rapp and Rapp and was opened in 1931. It was used as a movie theater until 1976, when it was sold to the City of Erie. In the early 1980s, Erie converted the theater to a performing arts center, which has become the focus of a downtown revival. The theater features a 65-foot-by-28-foot proscenium stage and is complemented by crushed velour, gold and silver leaf, and gold-backed French mirrors. Today it hosts concerts and Broadway theatre performances and is home to the Erie Philharmonic and the Lake Erie Ballet. The Warner's Grand Lobby has capacity for up to 500 persons for a reception.
The Boston Store is a former department store located at and State Street in downtown Erie in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The store itself was founded in 1885, with the building being constructed in 1929. At its peak, two other Boston Stores were opened, in addition to the downtown store. The Boston Store was closed in 1979. The building remained abandoned until 1988, when it was renovated into a combination apartment and commercial building, and was renamed Boston Store Place.
The Erie Federal Courthouse, also known as Erie Federal Courthouse and Post Office, is a complex of buildings that serve as a courthouse of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and house other federal functions. The main courthouse building was built in 1937 in Moderne architecture style. It served historically as a courthouse, as a post office, and as a government office building. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. By the late 1980s, the federal courts needed more space to effectively serve the public. To resolve the space shortage, the General Services Administration undertook a bold plan to purchase, restore, and adaptively use two adjacent historic buildings: the Main Library and the Isaac Baker & Son Clothing Store. The existing courthouse was rehabilitated and two additions were constructed. Each of the buildings in the complex is of a different architectural style.
While the Erie Public Library system was established in 1897, a building to house the library system would not be completed until 1899. The Main Library Building is the the oldest building of the government complex in Erie that includes the Erie Federal Courthouse and Baker Building, a clothing store. The building is also known as the Erie Public Library.
This 1839 structure was part of a three-building banking complex that included what is now the Old Customshouse, and Coach House. This building housed the CEO of the Erie branch of the Bank of United States located next to the complex. When the branch closed down in 1841, the house continued to act as a residence until 1913. From then until 1963 it was sparsely used until the city of Erie purchased the building and restored it. Currently it is being used by the Erie County History Center.
The Dickson Tavern, or the Perry Memorial House, is the oldest building in the city of Erie. Located at the corner of 2nd and French Streets in downtown Erie, the structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The three-story, Federal and Greek Revival-style building was constructed in 1815 by William Himrod and owned by John Dickson. It was acquired by the city of Erie in 1924. The Tavern hosted Revolutionary War Hero the Marquis de Lafayette and has been reported (but unconfirmed) as being part of the Underground Railroad helping escaped slaves get into Canada.
Housed in a former PENELC generating station, the Erie Maritime Museum permits visitors to learn about the rich history of the Lake Erie and the people and ships that sailed upon it from the War of 182 through present day. Located on Presque Isle Bay, the museum first opened back in 1998 and uses interpretive displays and historical artifacts to enlighten its patrons. It is also the home port for the US Brig Niagara, the full size recreation of the famous ship from the War of 1812. While in port, the Niagara is open for tours.
The U.S.S. Niagara is a historic, reconstructed ship built in 1813 to help protect the American coastline along Lake Erie during the War of 1812. It was one of nine American ships that defeated a British fleet of six ships in the Battle of Lake Erie, which took place in September 1813. The American fleet was commanded by Oliver Hazard Perry (the older brother of Matthew Calbraith Perry—"Commodore Perry"—who succeeded in the opening up of Japan in 1854). He won the battle by employing the "T" move, in which his fleet ran in a straight line perpendicular to the British fleet. The ship is now mostly a replica and contains little of the original material. It is part of the of Erie Maritime Museum as an exhibit space but it is still an active ship, designated an official sailing school vessel by the U.S. Coast Guard and it sails in the Great Lakes. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.