This skyscraper at 1005 State Street is one of the most recognizable structures in Erie, PA. My generation knows it as the Baldwin Building, but it's now called Renaissance Center.
Tom Weber penned the best description of this structure:
"Boldly vertical, at once massive and sleek, the fourteen-story building boasted all the modern conveniences- fireproof construction, high-speed elevator service, refrigerated drinking water- when it opened in May of 1926. Besides housing the main office of the Erie Trust Company, it provided space for more than 250 offices and four stores, a total of 109 thousand square feet at a cost of one and a half million dollars.
Designed by New York architects Dennison and Hirons, and built by the Henry Shenk construction company of Erie, the city's tallest building was so strongly reminiscent of Manhattan that Erieites began nicknaming the intersection it dominated 'Times Square.'
In keeping with the Modernistic tradition, Dennison and Hirons held ornamentation to a bare minimum. But they were not without a sense of humor; the arched entrance to the banking hall is decorated with a wonderful carved stone frieze depicting tiny gnomes and gremlins busily counting bags of money." -from Erie Style (be patient when viewing- it takes awhile to load). Used with permission of Tom Weber Films
I have a number of fond memories of this location. I worked for the U.S. Dept. of Commerce out of the Baldwin Building during the 2000 Federal Census. I used to by stamps from a man who had a small shop in the building around 1976-77. Who can forget Greg's Place, the restaurant we ate at in the basement during the 1980s. Reid's newsstand was owned by a relative of my husband.
I also have one strange connection to the building that goes back much further. My great-grandfather had a heart-attack and died in the Pennsylvania State Employment office on the fifth floor of the Baldwin Building on April 30, 1948. I discovered that tidbit when I was researching my family tree and found his death certificate and an article in the newspaper.
Erie Trivia: There are actually two Baldwin Buildings in the postcard shown above. I'll show a full view of the other one in a future post.
Enjoy more facts and photos of historic Erie PA at: Old Time Erie