Preservation Erie to inventory area

A survey of historic buildings is being conducted in the city of Corry as part of the first inventory of historic resources in Erie County in the past 32 years.

Preservation Erie, which works to preserve and protect historic buildings and neighborhoods in the Erie area, is sponsoring the project.

The goal is to provide baseline information to be used in the development of historic preservation plans that can be accepted, adopted and implemented by governments throughout the county.

Municipalities or property owners have no obligations, said Chris Magoc, co-chairman of Preservation Erie’s Historic Resource Committee.

“Our organization hopes to identify properties that could either be included in a national historic district or a local historical district,” Magoc said. “We are determined to find out what we have. We believe the survey will be a valuable planning tool for municipal or civic officials to go forward in any way they wish to.”

Dave Skellie, the other committee co-chairman, believes the time has come to update the county’s historic structures. The previous survey was completed in 1982.

“No survey has been done for a third of a century,” Skellie said. “If nothing else, the document should be a fine achievement. We hope it moves beyond that and is included in municipal planning documents.”

Preservation Erie would like to see the completed document be a cornerstone in Erie County’s development of a historic preservation plan, Skellie said.

Preservation Erie has hired Wise Preservation Planning, a historic preservation planning firm in Chester Springs, Pa., to identify, document and map all resources and historic districts that are individually listed on, determined to be eligible for, or appear to be eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places.

Corry and Erie will be the first communities to be inventoried. Wise Preservation Planning will inventory the rest of the county in late spring and summer.

The firm’s principal owners, Robert Wise and Seth Hinshaw, and Skellie are expected to visit Corry City Council at its April 21 meeting to explain the project.

Magoc said two students from Mercyhurst University already have been on the ground in Corry taking photographs of about 300 buildings identified in the 1982 survey. To date, about 20 buildings have been photographed. As they proceed, the students also are compiling information on survey forms.

The students carry identification in the form of a letter of introduction from Corry Mayor Pat Migliaccio.

While some of the structures identified in the 1982 survey no longer exist, Magoc said Corry still has many historical treasures.

“There are still some beautiful structures in your community,” he said. “We want to draw attention to them.”

Later this spring, Wise and Hinshaw will visit Corry, concentrating on structures more than 100 years old. They will then focus on structures dating back to World War II. They will do inspections only from the street and will not enter structures, Wise said.

“There will be no need for us to visit properties,” Wise said. “But we always like to visit with people if they want to talk.”

The project is being financed with support from the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, The Erie Community Foundation, the Perry 200 Commission and individual contributors.

Preservation Erie hopes the surveys will be completed and a final document prepared by the end of the year, Magoc said.

Magoc believes preserving history is vital for a community.

“It’s a quality of life thing. Historical structures are physical elements of every community” he said. “Certainly, nothing lasts forever, but we hope we can save the best of them if we can. They just don’t make things the way they used to.”

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