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Federal Row


Listed 1984

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City of Erie

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The Federal Row Historic District consists of five buildings constructed between 1832 and 1842. The Charles M. Tibbals House, Alexander Brewster House, Kennedy Row House, David Kennedy House, and the Kennedy Double House occupy a rectangular plot on East 5th and Holland Streets. The Tibbals House, Brewster House, Kennedy Row House, and half of the David Kennedy House face East 5th Street. The other half of the David Kennedy House and Kennedy Double House face Holland Street. The buildings are of Federal architectural style with except the Charles M. Tibbals House which is to Federal from Greek Revival. Federal style dominated the American landscape from 1780 to 1840. All the buildings are constructed of red brick and all except the Tibbals House are laid in Flemish bond. They are between two and two and a half stories tall with gentle sloping roof lines. The Federal Row Historic District is the single remaining concentration of the city’s first Federal Style brick structures.

The Kennedy Row House, David Kennedy House, and the Kennedy Double House exhibit David Kennedy’s appreciation for the simplicity of the Federal style. His houses have raised basements containing cooking hearths, bake ovens, and service rooms. Ornamentation around the door and window openings, and the wall-to-ceiling transition, and around the fireplaces are simple moldings. The Alexander Brewster house is a two- story 3 bay brick home. Its Federal style was later “Italianized” by an addition of an oriel window. Its street façade still retains a degree of architectural integrity. The Tibbals House is a 3 bay, two and one- half story Greek Revival home in transition to the Federal style. It has flat wall surfaces, flat lintels, and a portico at the front entrance. The Alexander Brewster House, Kennedy Row House, and David Kennedy House are adjoining, while the Tibbals House and Kennedy Double House anchor both ends of the complex.


Erie’s mercantile activity was concentrated in this area during the early 19th century. Each house on Federal Row is associated with prominent Erie individuals. More than any of the influential residents of the district, it was David Kennedy who gave this neighborhood its architectural flavor. Kennedy came to America in 1828 as an Irish immigrant. He became an accomplished mason and was one of the first men to build in all brick on any scale. His buildings, the Kennedy Row House, David Kennedy House, and Kennedy Double House convey a good grasp of the fundamentals of design and exhibit the simplicity of the Federal architectural style. After Alexander Brewster built his house in 1823, he and William Fleming acquired the property where the Tibbals House sits in 1836. Charles M. Tibbals, another prominent Erie businessman, bought the house in 1846. Tibbals Sr. was engaged in numerous ventures before moving into public service. Between 1983 and 1984 the Erie Insurance Group (“The ERIE”) acquired and restored the buildings in Federal Row as part of the Erie Redevelopment Authority. Their restoration was completed in 1984. Soon thereafter, they became the first National Register certified historic restoration project of its kind completed in the city. Federal Row was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.


National Register nomination


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C.M. Tibbals, 146 E 5 St
Kennedy Row Houses, 156 E 5 Street
Kennedy Row Houses, 158 E 5 Street
Kennedy Row Houses, 160 E 5 Street
162 E 5 ST
Kennedy Double House, 424-26 Holland Street

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