Hagen History Center

Since 1903, The Erie County Historical Society (ECHS) has been dedicated to collecting, preserving and promoting the study of our region’s history.

Doing business as the Hagen History Center (HHC), the HHC inspires and engages through dynamic educational programs, community outreach, and with relevant exhibits and publications.  We preserve our collections and archives to serve as a comprehensive, accessible resource for all.  Our vision is that the Hagen History Center will be recognized as a unique museum destination; an indispensable resource that provides a link to our heritage while inspiring all to create a better future. 

To truly appreciate Erie’s heritage, visit the museum at the Hagen History Center to see firsthand the many exhibits and buildings on our campus. Since the July re-opening of the Hagen History Center, we’ve showcased restored historic homes, new buildings, and new interactive exhibits to kick off a new day in our history. Add to that Frank Lloyd Wright’s original San Francisco office, his Cord automobile, and his Butterfly Wing Bridge model.  The community has been buzzing! And there is still more coming…

Watch for new exhibits in 2022. The heartfelt stories of our shared immigration and shared experiences will be featured next May. A virtual reality experience with Commodore Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie is sure to test your seaworthiness.

The HHC is the only comprehensive history museum and archive in the region. It is a resource for smaller nearby community museums and the HHC is committed to remaining resilient and innovative.

Organization description

Whether you’re a history aficionado, novice, Erieite, or visitor, the Hagen History Center has something for everyone. Explore and learn more about Erie’s rich history and limitless future with a visit to the Hagen History Center. 

Our Erie city campus is six buildings including four historic structures. We also maintain two historic farmhouses in rural Erie County (Girard, PA).

The HHC provides robust educational programing focused on the many underserved school children in Erie County. We offer free museum tours for school groups, online lesson plans that support both teachers and homeschooling, a speaker service, and a mobile educational plan with school visits and traveling trunks with exhibit artifacts.

At the HHC, we preserve collections representing over 200 years of our history. Our artifact collection is approximately 14,000 objects. Highlights include industrial artifacts, clothing, handwork, military objects, and decorative arts. Our archival and library collection, a resource for researchers, educators, students, and the public, is over 11,000 linear feet of artwork, local images, books of local relevance, court records, commercial building plans, and personal and family papers.

The Hagen History Center in Erie includes 20 exhibit galleries in the Watson-Curtze Mansion and Museum, the Education Center in the Wood Morrison House, and a new exhibit building behind the Wood-Morrison House. 

The thematic galleries include:

  • Welcome Gallery featuring Commodore O. H. Perry’s telescope and sword from the Battle of Lake Erie
  • Frank Lloyd Wright’s San Francisco Office
  • Frank Lloyd Wright’s Butterfly Wing Bridge Model
  • Erie Extension Canal Exhibit
  • Erie and the Navy Exhibit
  • Weschler Gallery of Military Service  
  • Children’s Exhibit-Winifred Watson’s Bedroom
  • Iverd (art) Exhibit 
  • Expanded Griswold Ironware Exhibit
  • Civil War Gallery
  • Mr. Watson's Billiard Room
  • Servants’ Quarters-now open for the first time
  • Victorian Fashions Gallery

The PRD Group, which has designed exhibits for Presidential Libraries, the Smithsonian Institution and Library of Congress, has designed the HHC’s new exhibits. The PRD exhibits encourage critical thinking with hands-on, interactive, dynamic, big picture exhibits; develop an appreciation for our heritage and pride in our community with an understanding of Erie’s rich history; and encourage increased local attendance and large-scale tourism with the Hagen History Center being a destination point.   

We offer guided and self-guided tours for individuals, groups and school children. The Watson-Curtze Mansion is also the venue for the ECHS Educational Speaker Series, Victorian Holidays showcasing the home professionally decorated, and Civil War Roundtables Speakers. 

The Carriage House and Archive Building features a gift shop, research library, and archival storage. The Archive Building stores 10,000 square feet of treasures, including rare books, historic maps, architectural plans and photographs.   

The ECHS employs ten full-time and eight part-time staff members. We have approximately 50 volunteers and utilize several College interns each semester.

How will donations be applied?

You can become part of Erie’s future by donating to preserve Erie’s heritage.

Become part of this history-in-the-making endeavor. You will be providing opportunities to support student field trips, maintain the campus, and help promote Erie’s heritage for current and future generations.

You can help bring the exhibits and much more to the Erie community and beyond. Help us tell our story to countless school age children as they learn about and become proud of their home in Erie County, PA. 

Students on field trips will learn the stories of our military families and come to appreciate the sacrifices the made.  Children can also test their architectural skills as they build virtual homes; they can sail with Commodore Perry on Lake Erie or work a canal lock with our virtual/augmented reality experiences.

Support for the Hagen History Center helps us continue bringing history that inspires.

You are the key to preserving our region’s history and passing that heritage along to the children of our community.