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Modern Tool Company (Market House)

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Market House
1895, H. R. Dunning. State and 4th sts.
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)

Initially one of four enclosed market houses built in the 1890s, the structure was later purchased by the Modern Tool Company, manufacturers of the Payne Modern car. This became one of the dozens of small industrial manufacturing companies that insulated Erie's economy from the economic peaks and valleys of one-industry towns. The complex consists of two three-story brick gabled structures flanking a two-story portion with dormer windows. Cross-gabled wall dormers at each corner have the firm name printed at their bases. Simple double-sash windows and a variety of gentle arches over windows and doors give a rhythm to the fenestration. A cutaway corner at the northwest corner and the buttresslike pilaster above it distinguish the entrance.

This building is in a prime location, next door to the major downtown hospital and only blocks from Lake Erie. That it was reused instead of demolished again illustrates Erie's preservation ethic and its desire to absorb and adapt nineteenth-century buildings to twenty-first-century needs. Similarly, the former Erie Steam Bakery of 1894 at Lafayette Place (400 French Street) now accommodates office space. This square, orange brick building with rough-hewn stone trim was built for the makers of Tidal-Wave biscuits. A chamfered corner, stone arch, and trim highlight the double-door entrance.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "Modern Tool Company (Market House)", [Erie, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 485-486.

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