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   West 21st Street HD



West 21st Street HD


Listed 1990

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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 elevations.

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 Subdivision.”

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 afford it.

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.


National Register nomination


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119 W 21 ST
120 W 21 Street
123 W 21 ST
Heman Janes House, 125 W 21 ST
130 W 21 ST
Michael Liebel House, 139 W 21 ST
148 W 21 ST
151 53W 21 ST
163 W 21 ST
209 W 21 ST
214 W 21 ST
215 17W 21 ST
219 W 21 ST
221 W 21 ST
222 W 21 ST
223 W 21 ST
226 28W 21 ST
230 W 21 ST
231 W 21 ST
232 W 21 ST
237 39W 21 ST
241 W 21 ST
246 W 21 ST
247 W 21 ST
251 W 21 ST
252 W 21 ST
256 58W 21 ST
259 W 21 ST
260 W 21 ST
261 63W 21 ST
262 W 21 ST

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