West 21st Street HD
State Key number
City of Erie
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The West 21st Street Historic District contains 35 properties, 29
of which remain standing. The extant structures represent numerous
architectural styles including Colonial Revival, Queen Anne,
Romanesque, Victorian, Chateauesque, Tudor Revival and Italianate. All
contributing structures within the historic district were erected
between 1857 and 1939. While many of the residential buildings have
been converted to family use, they continue to retain their original
scale, materials, and detailing.
The district encompasses buildings on the 100 and 200 blocks of
West 21st Street between Peach and Sassafras Streets and between
Sassafras and Myrtle Streets. The buildings within the 100 block were
built between 1850 and 1900 and are all of brick construction.
Architectural styles include Colonial Revival, Chateausque, Queen Anne,
Victorian, and Italianate. The Colonial Revival style is represented by
the building at 139 West 21st Street. This style prevailed in America
between 1880 and 1955 and reflects the renewed interest in the earliest
English and Dutch houses. Colonial Revival can be characterized by its
accentuated front door, normally with decorative crown supported by
pilasters, or extended forward and supported by slender columns to form
an entry porch. The home at 139 West 21st Street is constructed of buff
colored brick and Corinthian styled columns. Three pedimented dormers
decorate the roof. The roof is accented with a cornice that also
matches the porch roof. The building now has a three-car garage
attached to the rear to accommodate for its use as a funeral home.
Chateausque was well represented by the building at 120 W 21st Street
but has been demolished. Queen Anne architectural style in this block
was represented by the building at 130 W 21st Street, but has also been
demolished. The Victorian home at 151 W 21st Street has been altered by
the construction of a two-story addition across the façade, although
the original Victorian detailing still survives along the east and west
The buildings in the 200 block were built between 1870 and 1930.
Architectural styles consist of Victorian, Romanesque, Colonial
Revival, and Tudor Revival. While many of the homes have had some
degree of remodeling, they still retain their general appearance and
good integrity. Buildings at 226 and 230 West 21st Street are Late
Victorian brick structures built around 1920. The Tudor Revival home at
223 West 21st Street is in excellent condition without any alterations.
The residence at 2022 Sassafras is a fine example of Italianate style,
and similarly, the home at 2124 Sassafras is Classical Revival.
This National Historic District is an architecturally and
historically significant area of South Erie because the buildings here
display a well-preserved concentration of the type of homes erected by
the middle and upper classes between the mid-nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. Previously, South Erie had gone by the names
“Federal Hill” or “Eagle Village.” The area was given the moniker
Federal Hill by George Moore resulting from the large number of
“Federals” (aligned with the Federalist Party) living there. The area
was often called Eagle Village after the American Eagle hotel located
in the settlement. Consisting of the intersections of the Waterford
Turnpike (now Peach Street) and Ridge Road (now 26th Street), South
Erie was a great stopping place for travelers and offered continued
growth for the area. South Erie was incorporated into its own borough
in 1866 and became a part of the city of Erie in 1870.
One of the influential residents of the West 21st Street Historic
District was Heman Janes. His Italianate residence at 125 West 21st
Street was built in 1857 and, until tragically demolished in 2015, was
the oldest building in the district. Janes resided in his home until
his death in 1905 when the home was sold to Wilbur Graham who had it
converted into two flats. Janes made his early fortunes in lumber
shipping and real estate but was most successful in the business of oil
refining; he was in fact a co-founder of Standard Oil. Janes was
greatly interested in the success and residential growth of the area
and held extensive real estate interests. The entire block along West
21st Street between Sassafras and Myrtle became known as the “Janes
In 1873, South Erie was annexed as the Sixth Ward of Erie. Between
1875 and 1900, this area saw a dramatic population increase, from 1,500
to 5,200. The homes of the working class in this area were simple frame
detached houses, while Erie’s wealthier entrepreneurs and businessmen
had larger lots in the Janes and McNair Subdivisions. It is no surprise
that West 21st Street became a desirable location for those who could
Another influential resident of the West 21st Street Historic
District was Dr. B. A. Smith. Smith was a druggist and manufacturer of
patent medicines who operated his own pharmacy. His home at 246 West
21st Street was constructed in 1872, a classic Late Victorian edifice.
Other prominent residents of the Historic District include Emil
Streuber, Henry Shenk, and T. M. Nagle.
By the turn of the nineteenth century, the neighborhoods of the
Sixth Ward reached their capacity. The lots along the north side of
West 21st Street accommodated several more homes for middle-income
families. However, due to the Great Depression and periods of modest
growth, stagnation, and decline in the region brought little new
construction to the area. In the postwar era, many of those who could
afford to do so moved to the suburbs. In the ensuing decades, however,
new homeowners and a number of professional businesses have invested
the district with relative stability and architectural integrity. The
West 21st Street Historic District was granted official National
Register of Historic Places designation on March 9, 1990.
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