Growing up in and around Erie, Pennsylvania I made more visits than I can count to the Watson-Curtze Mansion, then owned by the Erie School District. Today it is part of a multi-building campus known as the Hagen History Center.
The expanded Hagen History Center had its grand reopening on July 17th. The mansion still covers many parts of Erie history, from Griswold cast-iron to various items promoting Waldameer Amusement Park. but the part of most interest to me is the Civil War exhibit. On the second floor of the mansion, you are greeted by a reproduction a Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry regimental battle flag, as well as the flagstaffs of all three of the Erie Regiments, the 83rd, 111th, and 145th’s.
When you enter the Civil War room has a collection of items from local heroes of the war, including Col. Strong Vincent; Col. John McLane; Col. O.O. Woodward, and Oliver Wilcox Norton, who wrote several books about his war experiences, and of Vincent and the defense of the Little Round Top.
The first floor of the Wood-Morrison House is dedicated to other Erie related, military history. This includes the War of 1812 and the Battle of Lake Erie. Oliver Hazard Perry’s fleet was built in Erie and returned there after defeating the British. The USS Michigan, which was built there in 1843, and remained homer ported there until its decommissioning. George Washington visited the French Fort LeBoeuf in 1753 to demand that the French leave the Ohio Country, as well as items representing Erie’s contribution up to and including modern military experiences.
The Carriage House is the visitor center, gift shop, and houses the reading room, library, and research center. They hold an amazing collection to artifacts, and documents of historical and research importance, especially related to Erie’s contribution to the Civil War.
The Hagen History Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is a fee to tour the museum, and if you are interested in doing specific research, you should contact them in advance so that they may have materials ready for you. To find out more, visit https://www.eriehistory.org/