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Group to save landmarks

Erie Times News
February 11, 2008

Driving past the site of the old Koehler Brewery pains many area residents who remember the landmark that once stood there.

To Chris Magoc, the Koehler building represented a part of Erie’s heritage that is now lost to future generations.

He said the question now is how to prevent other landmarks from meeting a similar fate.

The Mercyhurst College history professor and about 20 other people have formed a group called the Erie Center for Design and Preservation to help protect Erie’s historical places.

“This is really about trying to cultivate a preservation ethic for this region,” Magoc said.

He said he secured a small grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in summer that helped the group form a board of directors and some long-term goals.

The ECDP does not plan to focus on a single historical landmark, Magoc said, but all historical places in the area, including barns and houses in the county and buildings in the city.

“It’s is about city and regional pride,” Magoc said. “It’s about what makes Erie, Erie.”

He said one of the group’s goals is to educate the community and government leaders about the benefits of rehabilitating historical buildings. On May 9, he said, the group will host Arthur Ziegler, the president of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, one of the most successful preservation groups in the U.S.

“The places in the country that have created an infrastructure for preserving these places have seen the economic fruits of that,” Magoc said.

He said Erie could be more attractive to tourists by harnessing its heritage, and would also benefit the environment by rehabilitating old buildings instead of building new ones.

A key point of the group’s success, Magoc said, will be partnering with lawmakers and community members to foster a commitment to historical sites.

Magoc said the group plans to fund itself through grants, donations and membership fees, which are not yet determined.

“I know there are people in Erie who care about the community,” Magoc said. “I think we can count on a pretty good groundswell here.”

For more information about the group or to donate, call Magoc at 824-2075 or e-mail him at

SARAH WEBER can be reached at 870-1854 or

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633