Tonight's Community Gem takes us to Erie's Bayfront where the city's history on the water is well documented inside the Erie Maritime Museum.

With a great lake in our backyard, maritime history is a part of Erie's past, and present.

"We talk a lot here about the founding of the fleet for the battle of Lake Erie," said Hall. "The War of 1812 where these ships were actually manufactured here, built here, using the arsenals from Presque Isle."

Jim Hall is the site administrator for the Erie Maritime Museum.

The plan for the museum existed long before it opened in 1996.

The Brig Niagara is the museum's biggest attraction.

"There were a lot of people who were interested in getting the Niagara rebuilt," said Hall. "Getting a replica rebuilt of the Niagara, get it back out sailing again." 

And so, a group was formed.

"The flagship Niagara League, to pursue that as the state was moving along and getting that funded and getting the ships plans together," said Hall. "The idea of having an at home birthing spot of the Erie Maritime Museum to be run out of came to be."

The museum shares the building with Erie County's Blasco Library.

The story of Erie's maritime history is detailed in a 9 minute documentary within the museum.

The documentary boasts various exhibits where you can walk up to what it looked like on board a vessel, and find out about crew members, and see relics used.

"We have about 130 fantastic volunteers here that we could not function without they do everything from helping us with maintenance projects around here, sailing and maintaining the ship," said Hall. "As well as our docents who lead people around here on tours and help out with school groups."

Anyone who comes to visit the Erie Maritime Museum can also come outside, provided there's enough volunteers and get a tour on the Brig Niagara.

"All the 8th graders in Erie County actually get a chance to go sailing on the Brig Niagara as part of an initiative of our associate group the flagship Niagara," said Hall.

The museum also showcases commercial fishing, and just what the lake means to the people here, and the historical foundation its laid.

The Erie Maritime Museum is only open three days a week. Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

The last admission is sold at 4 p.m. so people can have at least an hour to take it all in. Cost is $7 for adults, $5 for children and ages five and under are free.