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Historic Name

Boston Store


716 28 State Street


City of Erie

Tax Parcel


Historic District



Class 1 (Definitions of Classes)

State Key Number


Historic Function

Commercial - business









Barn Type on property


Last Entry Update



The Boston Store was developed out of the Erie Dry Goods Company, which was founded by Elisha H. Mack in 1885. Mack had purchased a bankrupt dry goods store on Peach Street the same year, and purchased a three- story building on the 700-block of State Street a year later. Between 1886 and 1930 the Boston Store expanded to eleven parcels of real estate on the block comprised of State, Peach, West 7th, and West 8th streets. The Boston Store’s growth was due to the boom of American industry in the early twentieth century, and this expanding retailer competed with others in the Western Pennsylvania area. It particularly rivaled against the department store Trask, Prescott & Richardson, which was located about a block south of the Boston Store.

After changing ownership in 1925, the Boston Store continued to grow under the ownership of longtime employee Peter Fries, along with A.E. Seidel and Thomas Sutherland. By 1929 the Boston Store began planning the construction of a large, brick department store building that would replace the multiple buildings on the block. Erie architects Frank Shutts and Karl Morrison planned an Art Deco style building with interior features specific to that of a department store, including open retail floors and multiple stories. With the help of Erie suppliers and subcontractors, the new Boston Store was completed in 1931.

Now larger than its competitors Trask, Prescott & Richardson, the Boston Store combined and organized its retailers into the six-story building. It became the center of retail and entertainment, and a community focal point in Erie. The interior clock of the Boston Store became a meeting place for shoppers, and the sixth floor became a meeting place for the city’s clubs and social organizations. A post office was also located within the building. The first floor was comprised of impulse-buy goods such as small household items, candy, and a bookstore. The men’s department was also on the first floor, which was typical of the time period. Women shoppers greatly outnumbered men, and it was thought that if men could easily see goods that interested them from first floor storefronts of the Boston Store they would be more apt to go inside and purchase them. The women’s department was located on the second floor, while the third through fifth floors sold furniture, home accessories, and kitchen appliances. The fifth floor eventually became a toy store, and the sixth floor was host to a large kitchen, dining rooms, and administrative offices.

The Boston Store would expand, update, and reorganize until its closing on July 7, 1979. The newly built Millcreek Mall, located five miles southwest of the Boston Store, cut into sales at the once bustling department store. As part of an effort to breathe new life into this iconic Erie structure, the Boston Store was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in October 1994. The upper floors were renovated into 125 apartments, while the first floor houses several local radio stations and the insurance enterprise, UPMC Health Plan. The legendary place of the Boston Store in Erie’s retail commercial history is still recalled by sign posts located along various roads in Erie County, denoting the number of “miles to the Boston Store.”




Boston Store National Register nomination


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Photo courtesy, Erie County Assessment Office



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