This block of W. 21st Street contains two dozen houses dating from the 1870s to the 1920s. They were built by upper-middle-class business owners and professionals seeking a suburban experience in what was then the separate borough of South Erie. Located just a block west of the Waterford Turnpike (Peach Street) and six blocks south of Union Station, the area was popular with land speculators. The earliest was lumber and oil man Heman Janes, who, in 1857, began the settlement by building a brick Italianate home for himself at 125 W. 21st Street. In the next block, the owner of Erie's largest tannery, Emil Streuber, contracted in 1882 for a large brick Italianate house with Colonial Revival touches at 231 W. 21st Street. A large Romanesque Revival stone house of 1882 at 209 W. 21st Street was designed by architect David K. Dean. It was commissioned by building contractor Henry Shenk, whose firm built the Erie Public Library ( ER16). Shenk opened a second office in Pittsburgh to accommodate the work he received from the firm of Alden and Harlow.
Several handsome restorations of modest frame houses from the 1870s and 1880s are located at 215, 219, and 236 W. 21st Street. The orange brick Colonial Revival house with a tile roof at number 241 shows that the area continued to be fashionable into the early twentieth century. The district contains housing dating from pre–Civil War settlements to the trolley suburb and railway developments of the late nineteenth century.