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histERIE Week

histERIE Week is a week-long event dedicated to promoting historic preservation from a community level.

Meet the Participants

Dr. Benjamin Scharff: Dr. Benjamin Scharff is Associate Professor and Chair of the Thomas B. Hagan Department of History at Mercyhurst University in Erie Pennsylvania.  He specializes in Early American and Public History.  He published a book entitled “Skulking in the Woods:” Irregular Warfare in Pennsylvania During the Seven Years’ War and has a monograph entitled “Busy Mischievous Fellows:” Imperial Agency in Pennsylvania During the Seven Years’ War under contract for publication along with numerous other publications.  Dr. Scharff has collaborated in a number of ways with community partners since arriving in Erie in 2014.

ExpERIEnce Children's Museum: The expERIEnce Children’s Museum is a place that has been inspiring creativity and imagination in children for over twenty five years. The museum is a non-profit organization located in the historic cultural district of downtown Erie whose entire mission is to provide a safe, family-centered educational experience that inspires creativity, exploration, and imagination through play, interactive exhibits, and innovative programming. The museum is a place where children can race a boat, paint a painting, shop healthy, imagine a career and produce a play.

Chris Kinder - City of Erie Preservation Planner: Chris Kinder is a native of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  He earned is bachelors of science in historic preservation and master of arts in historic preservation from Southeast Missouri State University.  Prior to becoming Erie's first historic preservation planner, Chris worked for the Alabama Historical Commission and the Tennessee Historical Commission.  Chris is excited to be helping to build Erie's first municipal historic preservation program and looks forward to seeing preservation play a role in the City's revitalization.

DCNR - Presque Isle: A natural land formation that has taken thousands of years to develop, Presque Isle is a staple to Erie's identity. While always existent throughout Erie's known history, it did not become a state park until 1921. DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) was established on July 1, 1995. It is charged with: maintaining and protecting 121 state parks, managing 2.2 million acres of state forest land, providing information on the state's ecological and geologic resources, establishing community conservation partnerships with grants and technical assistance to benefit rivers, trails, greenways, local parks and recreation, regional heritage parks, open space, and natural areas.

Erie Art Museum: The Erie Art Museum might just have a little more than you would expect from a smaller, regional art museum. The Museum houses a collection of over 8,000 objects—a mix of local/regional art plus work by some of the biggest names in art history. The Erie Art Museum is one of the region's great cultural treasures, presenting quality exhibitions and a rich array of programming and offers.

Erie Events - Warner Theatre: Home to the Erie Philharmonic, Lake Erie Ballet and the Erie BROADWAY Series, the Warner Theatre also hosts a wide range of lectures and entertainment shows. The theatre showcases an aggressive schedule of more than 150 events per year. The Warner was listed on the commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Inventory of Museums and Historical Places, and on April 13, 1982, it was placed on the National Register for Historic Places. It has recently undergone a multi-million dollar restoration, which included making the marquee completely functional again. The Warner Theatre falls under the umbrella of Erie Events.

Erie Maritime Museum: The Erie Maritime Museum is a community gathering place welcoming audiences of all abilities and backgrounds to encounter and experience the maritime history & heritage of the Greater Erie region, including civilian activity and innovation, military service, and Pennsylvania’s contributions to the maritime industry and stewardship of the Great Lakes.

Erin Phillips: Erin is the creator of the Instagram and blog Old Erie On Foot, which explores the historic residential architecture of Erie, PA. Born from her love of taking walks in her historic West Bayfront neighborhood with her family, since its creation in 2018, the account has evolved into an in-depth house history research project, in which she uncovers the hidden stories of a home's past. She is also the Secretary of Preservation Erie, a local non-profit dedicated to preserving the character of Erie's built history, and chairs the Endangered Properties List committee in that group. Erin is also a contributing writer to the Erie Reader, and tries to focus her features on the historic buildings of Greater Erie being reused in creative ways. She can be reached via her website or via Instagram @olderieonfoot.

Fairview Area Historical Society: The Fairview Area Historical Society organized in 1977 after a year of Bicentennial activities in the township.  The organization purchased the (Robert) Sturgeon House in 1979.  It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Sites since 1980.  The house is used as a meeting location, for archives and genealogical records, and as a house museum.  It represents two periods in the history of the house: early 1800s when it was built (c. 1838); and Victorian when Robert Sturgeon redecorated to reflect that period in the life of the house.  

Fort LeBoeuf Historical Society: The Fort Le Boeuf Historical Society is located in Northwest Pennsylvania in the small town of Waterford.  It was founded in the 1970’s to save one of Waterford’s most historic buildings, the Eagle Hotel, built in 1826.  The new group’s hard work, both in physical labor and fundraising, saved this beautiful building from potential demolition. Some of those original members are still part of the group and other volunteers have joined their ranks to help preserve Waterford’s history. The Eagle Hotel has been joined by the Judson House, Washington Park and the FLB Museum…all of which are open for tours. The Fort LeBoeuf History Campus stands on what was the original home to Fort LeBoeuf. The Fort Leboeuf Historical Society is dedicated to collecting, protecting, and preserving the history of Waterford, Pa for the interest and education of present and future generations.

Goodell Gardens & Homestead: Goodell Gardens & Homestead is a non-profit botanical garden and accredited arboretum located in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. The purpose of Goodell Gardens & Homestead is to create an education-oriented botanical garden and arboretum on the 78-acre Goodell family farm by emulating the Goodell family passion for gardening and horticulture.

Hagen History Center: Hagen History Center formerly known as the Erie County Historical Society is a public museum located in Erie, Pennsylvania and focuses on the history of Erie County for the past 200 years. There is also an additional campus known as the Battles Estates in Girard, Pennsylvania. The museum includes exhibit buildings, archival and curatorial collections, educational classrooms, and house museums in Erie & Girard.

Historicorps: Historicorps is a nation-wide nonprofit that focuses on using volunteers to help preserve and restore historic structures across the country. For more information about this organization, click HERE.

Hurry Hill Farm: Hurry Hill Maple Farm has developed wonderful experiences for visitors–children, families, sugar makers or anyone curious about nature’s pure product. The maple sugaring process, natural and cultural history, lore and legend are on display with educational activities and exhibits along with samples of maple products. The Maple Museum is where young and old can see, touch, taste, and listen to the past while learning about an important part of Pennsylvania’s agricultural heritage. Weather permitting, you can take the Walking Trail to the woods to see the sugarhouse. A museum highlight is the story of the Newbery Medal award-winning book Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen. An extensive exhibit shows the people and places in the Edinboro and Cambridge Springs area the author used in the book. You can even hold the Newbery Medal and get a free bookmark!

Jefferson Education Society: As a nonprofit think tank, the Jefferson Educational Society of Erie was founded in 2008 to promote civic enlightenment and drive community progress for the Erie Region through the study, research, and discussion of ideas and events that have influenced the human condition. The Jefferson ensures the preservation of the past for study and examines key lessons to better build the future of our region, and through the exploration of contemporary issues facing our region and nation, the Jefferson serves as a platform of discussion and a vehicle for progress to enhance the civic future of the Erie Region.

Jeff Kidder - Kidder Architects: Jeff Kidder has over 30 years of experience with a strong focus on historic preservation and adaptive reuse. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects and holds a certificate with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. He is licensed to practice architecture in New York and Pennsylvania. He has been active on the City of Erie Planning Commission, Hagen History Center Properties Committee, Erie Downtown Partnership, Perry Square Alliance, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission's Historic Preservation Board. Mr. Kidder founded Kidder Architects in 2003.

Jennifer Sopko: A Pittsburgh-based writer and historian with a love of local history; she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Since 2003, Jennifer has covered the Ligonier Valley, Westmoreland County and Western Pennsylvania as a freelance writer and journalist for several regional publications, including the Latrobe Bulletin, the Ligonier Echo and Westmoreland History magazine. She is the author of two History Press books: Idlewild: History and Memories of Pennsylvania’s Oldest Amusement Park (2018) and Ligonier Valley Vignettes: Tales From the Laurel Highlands (2013). Jennifer serves as editor of the Westmoreland Historical Society’s Westmoreland History magazine and as board secretary for the Ligonier Valley Rail Road Association, Tube City Community Media, Inc. and the National Amusement Park Historical Association. Follow her at

Lawrence Park Historical Society: The Lawrence Park Historic District is roughly bounded by East Lake Road, Bell Street, Lawrence Parkway and Smithson Avenue, an area that includes the original neighborhoods and commercial blocks of what later became Lawrence Park Township.  The nation’s first recognized city planner, Philadelphia native John Nolen, helped design the Lawrence Park development to provide nice neighborhoods for General Electric Co. employees in 1911 after construction of the GE plant began just east of Erie in 1910. In 1917, Nolen added Lawrence Park’s signature row houses to his plans to accommodate growing numbers of wartime employees. The Lawrence Park Historical Society works to preserve and protect this township's unique history.

Lawrence Park Garden Club:  Lawrence Park Garden Club was founded in 2004. The club hosts different programs, events and fundraisers throughout the year that promote gardening and horticulture education.

Mercyhurst University - Thomas B. Hagen Department of History: Mercyhurst’s Thomas B. Hagen Department of History helps prepare students for a successful future whether they choose to study traditional history, public history and museum studies, documentary filmmaking, or history paired with secondary education as a path to teaching. The unique and individually tailored aspects of this program equip students with the abilities to conduct thorough research; to analyze and weigh facts; and to produce sound and eloquent conclusions both orally and in writing.

Our West Bayfront: The mission of Our West Bayfront is to enhance the quality of life in the West Bayfront neighborhoods by promoting civic involvement, thoughtful development, historical preservation, and neighborhood pride. We strive to make a positive impact in the West Bayfront neighborhoods through a variety of services, programs, and events. These include the transformation of parks such as Bayview Park, the creation of pocket parks, and programs for local homeowners hoping to make improvements.

Preservation Erie: The mission of Preservation Erie is to promote, preserve, and enhance the distinctive character of greater Erie through community-based planning, design, and historic preservation. For more information about their history, visit

Presque Isle Lighthouses: On July 25, 2014, Presque Isle Lighthouse was transitioned from a private residence for park staff to a public building for visitors. The purpose is to learn about the rich maritime history of Presque Isle Lighthouse. The newly formed non-profit Presque Isle Light Station Corporation signed a thirty-five-year lease with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). This action will allow for the restoration of the site, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors now have the opportunity to tour the lighthouse on a regular basis during the summer season.

WQLN: For more than 50 years, WQLN PBS NPR has been the Lake Erie region’s passport to a wider world—a world of discovery, exploration, lifelong learning, and an ongoing respectful exchange of ideas. But we’re not just TV and radio. WQLN reaches out to those vested in children’s education—parents, teachers, and the community at large—by providing family literacy workshops and community events that bridge the gap between the classroom and the home.

Yahn Planetarium - PSU Behrend: For years, the planetarium been the place where thousands of young people and adults come to learn about the universe and worlds beyond our reach. The Erie Planetarium served as a resource for the Erie community for more than fifty years, and it continues today as the Yahn Planetarium, now a part of Penn State Behrend. The planetarium is located in the School of Science complex on the Behrend campus.