Where History Inspires...
If you haven’t had the chance to visit the newly transformed Hagen History Center Campus located on historic Millionaire’s Row in Downtown Erie, then you should probably make plans to go ASAP because it is unbelievable! There’s something for everyone with more than 20 exhibits spread across four buildings. Step back in time and enjoy the architecture of the Watson-Curtze Mansion, built in 1891, and explore the Griswold cast iron display in the kitchen. On the second floor, peek inside Winfred Watson’s childhood bedroom, a Victorian dress display, Civil War gallery and the newly opened Servants Quarters. On the third floor, you’ll find the ballroom, Eugene Iverd exhibit and Waldameer memorabilia room. In the Wood-Morrison House, be prepared for emotional stories of Erie County men and women who fought for our country. You’ll also see the pot used to boil Mad Anthony Wayne’s bones … and much more.
However, hands-down the most popular exhibits is Frank Lloyd Wright’s original San Francisco Office. It was completely rebuilt here in Erie and is available for visitors to walk through for the first time! The world-famous architect’s office is impressively housed in a new specially designed building on the Hagen Campus. Wright used the office when he tended to Bay Area projects from 1951 until his death in 1959. The office came to Erie through the generosity of Hagen History Center benefactor Thomas B. Hagen, who purchased the office from Jim Sandoro, owner of the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum. The Erie location is also one of the members of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Erie’s Jeff Kidder, of Kidder Architects, and Mike Jefferys, of Kidder Jefferys Construction LLC, handled curation and installation. Kidder served as curator, and Jefferys led the physical installation team.
The exhibit also includes his favorite vehicles – a 1930 Cord L-29 Cabriolet on loan from Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum until March 2022 and a Crosley Hot Shot on permanent display. In addition to the wonderful cars (they’re so shiny and cool but please don’t touch!), you can find Wright’s 17-foot model of his The Butterfly Bridge, a structure designed to connect San Francisco and Oakland across the bay with a monumental reinforced concrete bridge, proposed in 1949. While the bridge was never built, the impressive model was featured in the Bruce Willis film “Die Hard.”
But that’s not all! That’s just a taste of what's going on!
Additional campus exhibits include:
- Erie Extension Canal exhibit, used as a thoroughfare in the 1800’s that connected the Great Lakes to the Ohio River, near Pittsburgh
- Oliver Hazard Perry’s sword, telescope, bust and other related artifacts
- Multiple galleries inside the Watson-Curtze Mansion, including Winifred Watson’s childhood bedroom recreated with historical accuracy and the servants’ quarters, open to the public for the first time
- More than 100 pieces of Griswold cast iron cookware are on display in the Watson-Curtze Mansion kitchen. Winifred Watson married Ely Griswold, of the Griswold Company
- Erie’s historic buildings are highlighted in the new exhibit building, and real estate enthusiasts will enjoy an interactive screen that shows more than 1,000 homes that are 75 years old. Kids will enjoy the popular Minecraft game that will allow them to build their own houses.
- Visitors to the completely renovated 5,500-square-foot Wood-Morrison House will see and hear the stories of brave, Erie County men and women who served our country
- Civil War exhibit including Erie County’s ties to “Taps”
- Changing Silhouette of Women’s Fashions, an interactive exhibit that displays women’s wear from the 1840’s to 1890’s. Visitors of all ages are amazed at the number of garments women wore, and it explains why women needed assistance in getting dressed
- A show of Waldameer collectibles in honor of the 125th anniversary
- Eugene Iverd exhibit. Iverd (George Erickson) lived in Erie, taught in Erie schools and used Erie people as his models for paintings that appeared on the Saturday Evening Post
Don’t forget this holiday season to stop by and view the annual “Victorian Holidays” exhibit. Starting Nov. 14, the Watson-Curtze Mansion is beautifully decorated for the holidays and open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday: 10 to 5, Sunday noon to 5. Free admission December 2-5.
The Hagen History Center is named for chief benefactor Erie native Captain Thomas Bailey Hagen, SC (USN, ret.), chairman of the board of Erie Indemnity Company. He grew up at 341 W. Sixth St., directly across from the Hagen History Center.
Hagen History Center Campus
356 West 6th Street
Erie, PA 16507
For more information, visit eriehistory.org.
Museum Hours - Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Archives Hours by appointment only.