The history of Marlena Place is encompassed in the larger story of
Erie’s West Park Place. Bounded by bustling thoroughfares North Park
Row, State Street, Peach Street, and 5th Street, West Park Place was
built to accommodate Erie’s population growth and manufacturing boom.
Originally this block was lined with simple wooden buildings, but in
1857 most of these structures were scorched in a fire. The fire was a
blessing for the city of Erie because it prompted the construction of a
more sophisticated and grander West Park Place. John Hill, who was the
designer of the Erie County Court House, was commissioned to design
eleven of the thirteen desired buildings, which included Marlena Place.
Almost all of these original structures remain, with the exception of
the demolished Park Opera House that once stood on North Park Row. Upon
completion, West Park Place was the center of consumerism in the City
of Erie. One could buy clothes, groceries, hardware, and other
household goods, as well as visit the offices of local doctors,
lawyers, and dentists. In close proximity to Millionaire’s Row, or the
West 6th Street Historic District, wealthy clientele frequented West
Park Place, which allowed the strip to become a commercial hub in the
late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
In 2016, West Park Place accommodates local restaurants and apartments,
attracting locals, including those from surrounding townships, as well
as visitors. The first floor of Marlena Place features Indian
restaurant, Tandoori Hut, while the upper floors are apartments. One-
hundred-and-fifty years after its construction, West Park Place
continues to thrive as a commercial strip in downtown Erie, boasting
its mid-nineteenth century architecture that illuminates its historic
Sources: Bates, Samuel P. History of Erie County, Pennsylvania. Chicago: Warner, Beers, & Co., 1884.