Lawrence Park Trail
Trail Name: Lawrence Park Trail
From 1907 to 1910, General Electric decided to build Lawrence Park, a company town, as a garden city. The building of the town was concurrent with the building of the plant. Development of the Township of Lawrence Park began in 1911, and it was separated from Millcreek Township and incorporated in 1926.
(Sites of interest along the trail.)
1. Lawrence Park Community Center opened its doors as an elementary school building in 1951. It closed as a school in 1979 and reopened in 1987 as the Community Center, housing the Township offices, police Department and some rented offices.
4. St. Mark’s Roman Catholic Church was completed in the spring of 1942. The congregation had been meeting locally since 1936. A fire destroyed the social hall in July of 1942, but it was rebuilt by Christmas of that year.
5. Elbow Tree Park was part of the original “garden city” plan and on an early map is labeled as a “preserve”. The park is named after an unusual and beloved tree that has, unfortunately, succumbed to time and the elements but lives on in memories.
6. 614 Rankine Avenue was originally owned by Herbert Whittier, an accountant and early township official. The style is Georgian Revival. The street is named after William John Macquorn Rankine, a 19th century engineer.
7. 626 Rankine Avenue was originally owned by township official Arthur Swetland.
8. Lawrence Park Methodist Church on the corner of the Niagara Place and Rankine Avenue was dedicated in 1922 with additions in 1958.
9. The red house at 806 Rankine Avenue was home to Dr. Cranch in 1914, then Dr. Luke in 1920 and Dr. Emerson and his wife from 1930 to the 1970s. They were all important to the township’s health as a community. It is now home to one of our township commissioners.
10. Bell Park is named for the bell set as a monument to Priestly Avenue School which opened in 1913 when Lawrence Park was still just a village in the eastern part of Millcreek Township. The school was used until the 1960s when it was torn down. This school was known for its exterior fire escape chutes. The school was actually located one block west at the west end of the large park at Priestly and Morse Avenues. This bell is all that physically remains of the school.
11. Curtis Park is part of the original plans for the township. It is bordered by Four Mile Creek. The park forms a green barrier between residents and the GE factory. It is named for Charlie Curtis who contributed much to support the youth of the township.
12. The current U.E. Union Hall is located in a building that architecturally resembles the rowhouses. It was known as The Lawrence Club which housed a hotel, restaurant, pool hall and barbershop.
13. Across from the U.E. Hall is Irish Cousins. It was originally a grocery begun by two sisters named Haley who arrived in 1913. At other times this building housed school rooms, the police headquarters and even churches.
14. Dabrowski’s is located in a building that was originally Keim’s Store which later became a pharmacy. Although the second floor contains private apartments, remnants of the bowling alley that was once there can still be seen.
15. In 1910, Jack Sheldon organized a volunteer fire department with men from the construction force. They had a hand-pulled two-wheel hose cart. They first housed it in a boxcar located on the southeast corner of Main Street and Silliman Avenue. Eventually, a shed was built to replace the boxcar and in the 1920s a firehouse was built on Rankine Avenue behind Keim’s store.
16. 1034 Rankine was built 1913, the first owners were Mathias and Emma Albrecht.
17. Many of the homes south of Main Street on Silliman and Smithson Avenues were built in the 1910s. They predate the Rowhouses by seven or eight years and were the original planned houses for the Lawrence Park Garden City and were built first.
18. 1046 Silliman was built in 1913 and was first owned by Alexander Martin.
19. 1041 and 1035 Silliman are two of the oldest houses in Lawrence Park. They wre built in 1912 and were part of the original Garden City plan before it was modified to include rowhouses. Silliman Avenue is named for chemist Benjamin Silliman who founded the American Journal of Science and made many discoveries. His son Benjamin Jr. developed fractional distilling for the oil industry.
20. 1014 Silliman Avenue is where Harry and Cecile Pratt opened a store in 1922. They were open 18 hours a day, 7 days a week and sold fresh farm produce, sausage, eggs, butter, potatoes and corn from relatives’ farms. One year they led the county in ice cream sales. They also ran a post office there and, consequently, their operation was a meeting place for many in the community.
21. The current Erie County School Employees Credit Union building opened May 2, 1930 as the First National Bank of Lawrence Park with J.C.Spencer as the first bank president. It became a branch of the First National Bank in 1945. Later, it became a branch of PNC Bank. It became the credit union in 2001.
22. The Dimestore Apartments and Guest Suites building was originally built for Greenlee’s Clothing. It later housed Chapman drygoods store, a five and dime and a music studio.
23. The site of the current Lynch Home Medical Supply is where a circular building housing the Lawrence Park Realty Company was located in the early years. The Lawrence Park Realty Company sold homes and building lots.
24. The new fire company building was built in 1938 and was originally one story. Later, a second floor was added.
25. Christ The Redeemer Lutheran Church was originally Christ Lutheran Church which merged with Redeemer Lutheran Church in 1982. This is the site of the oldest church in Lawrence Park. The origninal Christ Lutheran Church was torn down for a modern building in the 1970s.
26. The war memorial was erected after the weather damaged wooden Memorial Wall was taken down.