Other Sensory Noticings
It was a brisk fall day
We walked all down west 6th
street so it was a comfortable
temperature and nice distance
Most of the buildings had a
texture of cold rough brick and
the inside had wood detail
The light was shining through
the leaves and it was lovely
The West Sixth Street Historic District was listed on
the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
Functioned as Erie's "Millionaires Row" during the
late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
The large number of buildings built between 1881
and 1930 illustrates the primarily Victorian and Post-
Victorian flavor of the district.
Three buildings are listed individually on the
National Register: Charles Manning Reed Mansion,
Watson-Curtze Mansion and the John Hill House.
West 6th Street
The easiest generalization to make about this district
is that brick is by far the most prevalent building
material with wood frame, stone, stucco and wooden
shingle being represented in smaller quantities.
West Sixth Street homes were built by the founders
of Erie City Iron Works, First National Bank, H. F.
Watson (paper) Company, Black & Germer Radiant
Stove Company, Continental Rubber Works, Jarecki
Manufacturing Company and numerous others.
Many of the families were of English and Scott-Irish
West 6th Street
The Spencer House, the Collins House, the Davenport
Galbraith House and the Strong Mansion were all
bestowed by wealthy industrialists as gifts for their sons
Five West Sixth Street buildings constructed between 1890
and 1918 were designed by E. B. Green (1855-1950) of
Buffalo, a partner in the firm of Green and Wicks.
Green is responsible for the Taylor Mansion (1890),
Watson and Galbraith Mansions (1892) and Strong
Mansion (1896), all designed in the Romanesque Revival
style, and the Otto Seeker Mansion (1918)
West 6th Street
During the 1930's, the combination of economic
depression and new suburban development ended
the reign of West Sixth Street as Erie's wealthiest
A number of Sixth Street mansions including the
Victorian Eclectic Otto Germer Mansion at Sixth and
Chestnut Streets were demolished to make room for
new rental units which are out of scale and out of
character with the district.
West 6th Street
Built in 1891
Made into a museum in 1941
Original owner H.F. Watson owned the H. F. Watson
In 1923 the house was sold to Frederick Felix Curtze.
Mr. Curtze was president of the Erie Trust Company,
Heisler Locomotive Works, Union Iron Works and
the Keystone Fish Company.
1979- became the Erie Historical Museum
2000- the Erie Historical Museum and the Erie
County Historical Society merged.
Today, the mansion is a fully furnished Victorian
that offers a glimpse into these families’ lives and the
sumptuous living available to them.
The architectural style of the house is known as
Richardsonian Romanesque, named after the famous
architect Henry Hobson Richardson.
1889- house was designed by the firm of Green and
Wicks, Buffalo, New York.
This style is characterized by the use of massive
geometric shapes, straightforward treatment of stone and
broad roof planes. The overall effect depends on mass
volume and scale, rather than decorative detailing.
The mansion has 24 rooms, 17 closets, 5 bathrooms
and 12 fireplaces.
For detail there are mosaics (inlaid patterns made of
bits of stone, glass or other material), friezes (hand-
painted oil paintings on canvas that are attached to
the upper portion of a wall), decorative woodwork,
stained glass windows, Rose Carnagione marble,
onyx and red sandstone.
The Watson-Curtze Mansion has changed over time. It was first built in
1891 and owned by H.F. Watson, owner of the H. F. Watson Paper
Watson sold his mansion in 1923 to Frederick Felix Curtze.
In 1941, the house was made into a museum.
In 1979, it became the Erie Historical Museum.
In 2000, it merged with the Erie County Historical Society
Now, the house has tours given daily to students and curious Erie
residents. Part of the house has been turned into a planetarium while the
majority of the house still contains a Victorian feel.
Line of Inquiry
Students could pick their favorite piece of architecture
and represent it in any form of art they choose.
Clay model, drawing, sculpture, painting etc.
Students can learn about length, width, height, and
area by doing sample problems that involve the
measurements of each of the buildings.
Students can learn about the types of music from the
late 19th and early 20th century
Play music for them to listen to
Try and recreate the music by using classroom
Students can learn about what literature was being
written in the late 19th and early 20th century
They can write a story about the building- who lived
there? Why was the building built? Etc.
Students can learn about the history and background
of the architecture.
Who built the houses?
Who lived there?
What is the house being used for today?
What was the culture like in the late 19th and early 20th
Students could go on a field trip and tour the Watson-
Have the students build a structure using note cards.
Then see how many books you can place on top of
their structure. See who has the best support for the
building and talk about why that building with stood
They learn how to make a strong building and what
elements help a building withstand time and
How many rooms did each of these houses have?
What were the size of the families that lived there?
Did the house get passed down through the family?
How many mansions are the total on West 6th?
Was there a particular reason all the houses are on W. 6th?
What are the houses currently?
Are all the houses still standing? Are some gone?
What were the jobs of the people that lived there?
How many families lived in the houses until they became a
historic part of Erie?
Questions that Arose
The buildings are
beautiful and it is great
that they are being used
and preserved for today’s
We liked how they were all
on one main street and
were easy to access. Also,
many of the buildings can
be toured so that people
can see not only the outer
architecture but also the
The Watson-Curtze house
is a planetarium and does
house tours so you could
go on a field trip there to
see the architecture.
Also there is Spencer bed
and breakfast where
students could eat lunch
or have tea like a 19th
century Erie elitist and
detailing and architecture.
The houses can all be
Many of them were made
into businesses like a
planetarium, bed and
breakfast, museums, law
offices and library.
They hold a lot of
information about Erie’s past
and are great to learn about!
Many buildings are
turned into useful
things since they are no
This old mansion
was turned into