Sunday, November 18, 2012

President Taft at Strong Mansion in Erie PA

Front page of the Erie Sunday Herald, September 18, 1911.
President William Howard Taft visited Erie, Pennsylvania on September 16, 1911. He stayed with the Charles H. Strong family in their mansion at 109 West 6th St., better know today as Gannon University's 'Old Main.'

Taft stayed at the Strong mansion for two nights. It is rumored that he became stuck in a bathtub in this house.

Taft arrived by train at the old Union Depot on Peach Street at 9:12 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16, 1911. The headline of the Erie Sunday Herald stated, "Monster Crowd Greets President Wm. H. Taft." Taft went directly to the Majestic Theater, 18-24 West 10th Street, to a banquet hosted by the Erie Chamber of Commerce. "The Majestic Theater was decorated with flags and bunting and made an ideal banquet hall. A floor was built over the parquet seats on a level with the stage, thus providing seating arrangements for over 800 people...the President's table was almost in the center of the hall and he was seen and heard to the best possible advantage."-Erie Evening Herald, September 17, 1911.

While in Erie, Taft attended the Unitarian Church at 147 West 9th Street with the Strong family on Sunday morning, followed by a luncheon in his honor. "After luncheon, the President was taken for an auto drive in Mrs. Strong's automobile. In addition to the President were Mrs. Strong, Major [Archibald] Butt and Secretary [Charles] Hilles. In addition to driving about a number of streets, a stop was made at the Log Cabin west of the city...At 10 o'clock the President left the Strong residence being accompanied to his private car by Mr. Strong. His car left Erie at 1:21." -Erie Evening Herald, September 18, 1911.

The Herald published Taft's message of appreciation on Sept. 18th:
"It has been a great pleasure to meet the people of Erie. I am glad to have been the first President to visit this interesting and enterprising city. The police arrangements, due to the efficiency of the local police, supplemented by the National Guard, were perfect. The cordial reception by the people, who in great numbers lined the streets from station to auditorium, was very gratifying.

The audience at the Chamber of Commerce banquet, including the 1,600 members and the ladies who honored the occasion by their presence, were in a most hospitable and responsive mood, and encouraging in the highest degree to those whose good fortune it was to speak to them. I was delighted to find such a sympathetic response to the cause of Arbitration Treaties, which I improved the opportunity to present and urge. The Sunday's rest in Erie was grateful.

John F. Kennedy visited Erie, but he was a senator at the time, and was campaigning for the presidential election. Senator Kennedy spoke from the Lawrence Hotel, one building west of the old Majestic Theater.

Here is a photo of the Majestic Theater: Majestic Theater

Enjoy more historical facts and photos at: Old Time Erie

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