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   Wood-Morrison House

PROPERTY INFORMATION

Historic Name

Wood-Morrison House

Address

338 West 6th Street

Municipality

City of Erie

Tax Parcel

17040011012000

Historic District

West 6th Street HD

Classification

Class 1 (Definitions of Classes)

State Key Number

79934

Historic Function

Domestic - single dwelling

Style

Italianate

Built

1858

Architect

 

Builder

 

Barn Type on property

 

Last Entry Update

7/6/2016


HISTORY

The Wood-Morrison House is located along Erie’s Millionaire’s Row. Designed by Dudley and Hawk, the mansion was built in 1849 for Dr. William Maxwell Wood, who was appointed the first surgeon general of the United States Navy in 1869. It was initially known for being rather modern, as it was well equipped with state-of-the-art appliances and conveniences. As extraordinary as the building is from an architectural standpoint, the history it embodies and to which its residents are linked is even more impressive.

Dr. Wood, who served as the physician aboard the U.S.S. Michigan, performed surgery in the basement of the home on a regular basis, and one of his more famous patients was President Zachary Taylor, whose niece, Rose Mary Carson, was Dr. Wood’s wife. In 1849, President Taylor became ill on his way to Buffalo and Dr. Wood tended to him in the home. While the president was recovering, Vice President Millard Fillmore also resided here, technically making the Wood-Morrison House presidential headquarters and the capital of the United States for a period of time.

Dr. Wood is remembered for his daring and secret expedition deep into Mexico at the onset of the Mexican War. The intelligence he gathered led to the appropriation of California by the United States. Dr. Wood is also the author of several books in which he recommended the reform of the United States Navy. Wood’s son, Charles Erskine Wood, who grew up in the home, would become a noted soldier in the 1877 Nez Perce War, known for transcribing the famous words of Chief Joseph, “I will fight no more forever.” Charles Wood was also a prominent civil libertarian, anti-imperialist, and author, whose 1927 bestselling satirical collection of essays, Heavenly Discourse, took aim at religious intolerance and militarism.

In 1865, the Morrison family purchased the home from Dr. Wood, as well as a barn located east of the property. The Morrison’s also acquired land to the west where the Watson-Curtze Mansion currently stands. The Watson family purchased this land in the 1880s and completed the construction of an ornate mansion in 1891. An important figure in Erie’s maritime history, Captain William Morrison, a United States Naval Captain, lived at this home with his family in the late nineteenth century. Morrison served as a United States Naval Captain while commanding the U.S.S. Wolverine, formerly the U.S.S. Michigan, from 1910 to 1917, and later as Lieutenant Commander of the U.S.S. Utah during World War I. Locally, Morrison oversaw the reconstruction of the U.S. Brig Niagara in 1912 and served two terms as a representative in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. An avid mariner, he was a founding member of the Erie Yacht Club and instrumental in the establishment of Presque Isle as a state park. Morrison served as the first superintendent of Presque Isle State Park in 1922. A man dedicated to preserving Erie’s maritime history, Captain Morrison is honored in front of the Erie Maritime Museum. A plaque has been dedicated to him, which is situated beside the anchor of the U.S.S. Wolverine, a ship that Morrison had commanded and sought to preserve; however, only remnants of the ship remain inside the Erie Maritime Museum.

Upon the death of Morrison and his wife in 1956, the Erie Art Club purchased the home. They maintained the building for almost thirty years, renaming it the Erie Art Center. It was here that the association began to expand, opening new exhibits and galleries until there was no longer room on the property. As a result, the association moved to 411 State Street in 1983 and Schroek and Segel P.C. purchased the Wood-Morrison house a year later in 1984. The legal firm continues to operate inside the Wood-Morrison house under the name Schroek & Associates.

Sources: Northwest Institute of Research, Historic Survey 1982; Frew, David, et al. Journey Through Time: Erie’s Best Downtown Walking Guide. Erie, PA: Erie County Historical Society, 2006.


DESCRIPTION


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CURRENT ASSESSMENT PHOTO


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PHOTO FROM 2014 SURVEY

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