Sunday, July 15, 2012

Commerce Bldg demolition 12th and State St. in Erie, PA

State Street in Erie, PA looking north from the railroad tracks to watch the demolition of the
Commerce Building. Photo by Debbi Lyon ©2012. 
It was a sad day when the final truckload of rubble was carted away for the old Commerce Building in Erie, Pennsylvania. A crane and wrecking ball was used to slowly take down the mammoth building at 10 East 12th Street.

The Commerce Bldg. occupied the northeast corner of 12th & State for many years. I used to go to the studio of WCCK-FM K-104 to pick up boxes of 7" singles. WWGO had its studio there in Room 212 in 1968, when Larry Perrotto was the station manager. (WWGO-AM 1450 began in 1935 and became WWGO-FM 103.7 around 1968. and later evolved into Go Underground, where you could hear Moby Grape, Jethro Tull and Ten Years After in the wee morning hours. WWGO later evolved into K-104.)

Bill Shannon, program director of K-104, used to play local bands such as The Pulse, Friction and Prophecy, the pre-Stabilizers band

WYNE's Dan Geary (aka Captain Dan) remembers "an exceptionally young Johnny Holiday (aka Bob Bach) broadcasting 'From the edge of the ledge' at the Commerce Building, high above State Street." at WWGO.

Frank Ferreri (aka Ron Rondo) was on WCCK-FM from 1970 to 1976. He remembers one of the other tenants a couple of floors below the station. "Great bar in the basement, the Aristocrat Lounge."

Joel Miller says, "When I was on WCCK/K104 1974-1977 the studios were in the Commerce Building. I have VHS video of the building being torn down. I took it from along 12th Street while the studio was exposed from the outside walls having been knocked away."

Jim Griffey (aka J.J. Sanford) started as a DJ at WCCK-FM on March 18, 1976, spinning "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate. Jim says the Aristocrat Lounge "became an after hours haunt...the Pickwick Club. Many times I had to wade my way around drunks and hookers when I'd have to do an early Saturday shift."

Tami Bennett (aka Tami Hagar) also did a stint at K-104 after the station moved to West 26th Street. She visited the Commerce Building many times, "but not as an employee. My Mom did commercial traffic for WWGO in the days of Jim 'Lemmons' LaBarbara."

K-104 moved to 1946 West 26th Street in Erie, PA after leaving the Commerce Bldg.

Dr. Elmer Hess was one of the first people to open an office in the new Commerce Building around 1913. Richard Irwin of Pittsburgh, PA was the architect and the Commerce Building was soundly built by Mayer Brothers Construction Co. of Erie, PA.

WLEU-AM had a studio in the Commerce Building, according to Dorothy J. Anthony. "I worked there in the 1950's!"

At the end of its life, the Commerce Building rented out practice rooms to local bands, so I got to rock out on John Rainey's Flying V once or twice. You could crank up the Marshall stack and play as loud as you wanted- there were so few tenants that the place was practically a ghost town.

The Baldwin Building (the one with the First National Bank logo on it) overshadows the Commerce Building in this photo. You can also catch a glimpse of the Boston Store on the left, partially obscured by a street light. The block letter sign for Gem City Furniture at 1507 State Street is in the center.

K-104 survey from 1980: K-104 Survey from 1980

Enjoy more facts and photos of Erie, PA at: Old Time Erie


  1. Seems like it took FOREVER to bring that building down. Seem to recall it had been condemned several years before the demolition back, if as I recall, in 1987.

    Perhaps, if the building was in better shape than they thought, it could have been saved and utilized again.

  2. Great, informative post Debbi. I also have photos of the demolition; last year I attempted an internet search on the building but found very little information. Thanks!

  3. Brings back the memory of winning a record from WCCK and my mom had to take me downtown to the Commerce Building to pick it up. What was the album you ask? Harry Chapin 'Greatest Stories". Double record set. I think the dj was Mark Lopez but I honestly don't recall the name right now.

  4. It was a fascinating old building.. 802 Commerce Building was the ofices of the Erie Education Association for years...