Erie City Council, on February 1, is expected to approve the first building to be named to the city's Historical Preservation List.     It's the PACA building on State Street.  It's loaded with history and I want to take a tour. 

What better person to teach me about this building than Mark Tanenbaum, the executive director of PACA, the Performing Artists Collective Alliance.  Mark is dedicated to preserving the PACA Building, originally the Mayer Building, built in 1899.  He loves Erie architectural history and is saddened by old buildings that have been torn down over the years.

"There's no doubt that Erie was a museum of turn of the century architecture. Many people would have flocked to our city as a tourist destination just to see the buildings.  But a majority of those buildings have been torn down and replaced with other pieces of real estate,” says Mark.

Mark has boxes of old pictures and post cards of magnificent buildings in Erie that are no longer standing. Some were located in close proximity to his beloved PACA Building on the 1500 block of State Street.

"Right across the street was the Erie Central Market.  I remember the Erie Central Market,” says Mark. “There were 30 or 40, maybe 100 stalls in that building."

Mark is making sure the PACA Building will remain standing for years to come. He was instrumental in the building being named to the National Registry of Historic Places. He worked hard to get the building on the City of Erie's Historic Preservation List.  The building has a fascinating history.  There's an I-beam on the outside rear of the structure that was bent by debris from the raging waters of the Mill Creek Flood of 1915. It's a sobering sight to see.

"It could only be a flood to have that much force.   People underestimate the power of moving water,” says Mark.

Inside the building, on the fourth floor, is a sink.  It was installed for nurses to wash their hands during the Typhoid Epidemic of 1911. The entire floor was offered by building owner Henry Mayer to be used to treat typhoid patients because hospitals were full.  He even installed an elevator to carry patients to that floor.  The elevator is still in use today.  The PACA building has all kinds of history that will be preserved for future generations to admire.

"We're not going anywhere.  We're glad to be part of the community,” says Mark.

The City of Erie can designate a building, or an entire block, to be on the Historical Preservation List. Special funding is available for improvements to those properties.  $800,000 is set aside for those improvements. The PACA building, by the way, needs new wooden front doors that cost about $30,000.