Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Old Main

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Institution Name: Gannon University
Original/Historic Place Name: Strong Mansion
Location on Campus: 109 W. 6th St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1890-1893original construction Green & Wicks
1941purchase by Bishop John Mark Gannon
Designer: Green & Wicks (Buffalo)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Romanesque revival, Victorian (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: slate
 
Function:
1893-1941private residence
1941-present (2006)administration (offices of University Advancement and Communications Office)
 

Narrative:
Originally known as Strong Mansion, Old Main was purchased in 1941 by Bishop John Mark Gannon to serve as the center of the recently-founded college. The purchase price of the mansion, which had been vacant for many years, was $50,000. The building is currently valued in excess of $7,000,000.

When Charles Strong married Annie Wainwright Scott in 1881, they united two of the area's wealthiest families. According to local legend, the mansion was a gift from the bride's father, Senator William Scott, but this is not the case. Senator Scott did not begin construction of the mansion until 1890, nine years after his daughter's marriage to Charles Strong. When Senator Scott died in 1891, he left the unfinished mansion to his daughter in his will. The home was completed in 1893 at a cost of $480,000 and was furnished for an additional $800,000. The 46-room mansion soon became the showplace of Erie.

Over the years, many prominent guests were entertained in the mansion, but the most famous guest came on September 17, 1912. President William H. Taft, a Yale classmate of Charles Strong, came to Erie to address a Chamber of Commerce dinner, and he stayed at the Strong Mansion during his visit.

Today, much of the mansion has been restored, but its former opulence is a mere background to the bustle of administrative offices. Since it became part of the institution, the mansion has seen a great deal of activity and serves as a symbol of Gannon University's rich academic traditions. Presently the offices of University Advancement (Vice President's, Development, Alumni, Special Events) and the Communications Office are housed on the third floor. The fourth floor is the site of the Annual Fund's Telemarketing Center and offices of the Major Gifts Officers. On the first floor is the University's Boardroom, where the Trustees and other key committees hold their meetings, and adjacent to this is a small dining room, originally the library. The office of the University President is also on the first floor. Today, selected administration offices, including those of the Provost and Vice President for Finance and Administration, occupy the second floor.
 

References:

The Strong Mansion: Yesterday and Today. Erie, PA: Gannon University, 2002.

 

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Last update: November 2006