“Dr. Wood is remembered for his daring and secret expedition deep into Mexico at the onset of the Mexican War. The intelligence he gathered led to the appropriation of California by the United States. Dr. Wood is also the author of several books in which he recommended the reform of the United States Navy. Wood’s son, Charles Erskine Wood, who grew up in the home, would become a noted soldier in the 1877 Nez Perce War, known for transcribing the famous words of Chief Joseph, ‘I will fight no more forever.’ Charles Wood was also a prominent civil libertarian, anti-imperialist, and author, whose 1927 bestselling satirical collection of essays, Heavenly Discourse, took aim at religious intolerance and militarism.” (Source: www.eriebuildings.info)
The Morrison family then purchased the house and accompanying barn in 1865. It was the Morrisons who sold part of their property to the Watson family in the 1880s to build the Watson-Curtze mansion which now houses the ECHS museum.
“An important figure in Erie’s maritime history, Lt. Commander William Morrison, a United States Naval officer, lived at this home with his family in the late nineteenth century. Morrison was commander of the USS Wolverine, formerly the USS Michigan, from 1910 to 1917. He later was Lieutenant Commander on the USS Utah during World War I. Locally, Morrison oversaw the reconstruction of the US Brig Niagara in 1913 and served two terms as a representative in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
An avid mariner, he was a founding member of the Erie Yacht Club and instrumental in the establishment of Presque Isle as a state park. Morrison served as the first superintendent of Presque Isle State Park in 1922. A man dedicated to preserving Erie’s maritime history, Captain Morrison is honored in front of the Erie Maritime Museum, where a plaque has been dedicated to him. This plaque is situated beside the anchor of the USS Wolverine, the ship that Morrison had commanded and sought to preserve; however, only remnants of the ship remain inside the Erie Maritime Museum.“ (Source: www.eriebuildings.info)
“Upon the death of Morrison’s wife in 1956, the Erie Art Club purchased the home. They maintained the building for almost thirty years, renaming it the Erie Art Center. It was here that the association began to expand, opening new exhibits and galleries until there was no longer room on the property. As a result, the association moved to 411 State Street in 1983. Schroeck and Segel P.C. purchased the Wood-Morrison house a year later in 1984.“ (Source: www.eriebuildings.info)
In 2017, this home was purchased by the Erie County Historical Society, from Attorney George Schroeck. In February of 2019, after 10 months of extensive renovations, the home became the Education Center for the ECHS.
On the first floor, this building will feature exhibits on the Dr. Wood and Captain Morrison families. On the second floor, three classrooms are available for educational opportunities.
Construction on a new exhibit building located behind the Wood-Morrison House has been completed. This building will provide an additional 6000 sq. ft. of new exhibit space.
An exhibit of national significance will be installed on the first floor by May 2020. This exhibit is expected to be a major tourist attraction estimating at least 10,000 annual visitors from outside our region.
The second floor will house two large themed exhibits on Erie's history.
The first, entitled Coming to Erie, will include exhibits on how newcomers have shaped Erie, including immigration, industrialization, wars, post-war changes, innovation, and idea labs. These exhibits will showcase a chronology, utilize ECHS's archival and curatorial collections, and incorporate first-person story telling.
The second will be entitled Erie at Work, and include exhibits on farm to market, lake to land, industry and innovation, and test markets. Theses will be thematic exhibits utilizing ECHS's archival and curatorial collections.
Designing the exhibits is the award-winning The PRD Group of Chantilly, VA. They will help create intellectually engaging and entertaining experiences that combine storytelling and education.
The PRD Group has designed exhibits for the Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress, the Eisenhower Presidential Library, and the National Park Service among others. The PRD exhibits will encourage critical thinking with hand-on, interactive, dynamic, big picture exhibits; develop an appreciation for our heritage and pride in our community with an understanding of Erie's rich history; and encourage increased local attendance and large-scale tourism with the Hagen History Center being a destination point.