Get to Know the Hagen History Center - Where History Inspires
Tuesday Jul 5th, 2022
The Hagen History Center, formerly known as the Erie County Historical Society, is a museum campus located in downtown Erie with a focus on the history of Erie County over the past 200 years. The Hagen History Center is named for Erie native and chief benefactor Captain Thomas Bailey Hagen, SC (USN, ret.), who grew up directly across the street from the Hagen History Center. The campus is comprised of the Watson-Curtze Mansion, Wood-Morrison House, the Carriage House, the New Exhibit building and the King-Mertens Archive building. For Hagen History Center hours and information click here.
Built in 1891 by paper manufacturer Harrison F. Watson (1853-1904) and his wife Carrie and daughter Winifred, the mansion features 24 rooms of impressive architecture, stained-glass windows, mosaics, fireplaces, a ballroom and solarium. After Watson’s wife Carrie died, Frederic Felix Curtze (1858-1941), a bank president and industry leader, bought the home and lived there with his family. The mansion exhibits include Winfred Watson’s childhood bedroom, a Victorian dress display, Civil War gallery, servant’s quarters, Eugene Iverd exhibit and Waldameer Park memorabilia room. Photo provided by the Hagen History Center.
This historic house predates the Watson-Curtze Mansion and was built next to the Erie Extension Canal. Dr. William Maxwell Wood built the house in 1858. He served onboard the USS Michigan, the U.S. Navy's first iron-hulled warship. The Wood-Morrison House exhibits include the Erie Extension Canal, the Weschler Gallery of Military Service and the pot that was used to boil Mad Anthony Wayne’s bones.
Photo provided by the Hagen History Center.
Built in 2019 specifically to showcase new exhibits, the appropriately named building’s most popular exhibit is Frank Lloyd Wright’s original San Francisco Office. Completely rebuilt in Erie, visitors are able to walk through the world-famous architect’s office, which he used when he tended to Bay Area projects from 1951 until his death in 1959. Other exhibits include Wright’s 17-foot Butterfly Bridge model, and a welcome gallery featuring Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s telescope and sword from the Battle of Lake Erie. Pictured: Frank Lloyd Wright's San Francisco Office, provided by the Hagen History Center.
Carriage House Visitor Center and Gift Shop
The carriage house belonged to the Watson family and housed transportation vehicles from carriages to cars throughout its service. The carriage house includes the gift shop, research area, reading room and library with more than 5,800 books published in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Photo provided by the Hagen History Center.
This building’s houses archival material, diaries, letters, correspondence, books, typescripts, reports, photographs and other historical resources including information on the history of Erie County as well as the Robert J. MacDonald Great Lakes maritime history. Visits to the archive building are by appointment only.