Born in 1853, he and his wife Carrie and their daughter Winifred owned the mansion at 365 W. 6th St. They built it on land they purchased from the Morrison family to the east (the current Wood-Morrison House on the Hagen History Center campus). The house cost the Watsons $50,000 to build, roughly $10 million today.
The Watsons previously lived on East 16th St., across from the Erie roofing paper factory that he owned. Their oldest daughter Gertrude died there at age 8 in 1887 of scarlet fever.
In the mansion, Harrison's den is a unique blend of architecture. The narrow drawers in the room were designed to hold butterflies, insects and rocks he collected as a hobby that he had throughout his life. The unique small doorway inside the room is a closet -- although many visitors like to believe it is a secret passage.
He died Nov. 10, 1904 at age 50. He had been unwell the last five years of his life and had installed an elevator in the mansion to help him get to the four floors of the house.
He is buried in Erie Cemetery.