Behrend’s Federal Home finds new life with $6.6 million renovation

For years, it sat empty and unused alongside the jap fringe of Penn State Behrend’s campus in Harborcreek Township.

Whereas the township’s oldest brick home — in-built 1838 — crumbled outdoors, squirrels scattered walnuts inside. In earlier instances, the constructing that Behrend dubbed Federal Home had been a stagecoach cease and a secure home on the Underground Railroad.

Now, 34 years after Larry and Kathryn Smith donated the property to Behrend, the 184-year-old construction has a brand new look and a brand new objective.

The newly expanded section of the Federal House is shown with the older structure in the back, on June 6, 2022, at the eastern end of the Penn State Behrend campus in Harborcreek Township. The Federal House is undergoing a multi-million expansion and improvement .

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Following a $6.6 million restoration and enlargement, the home the place cobbler Thomas Bonnell and his spouse Eva raised 9 youngsters is now the house of the Susan Hirt Hagen Middle for Group Outreach, Analysis, and Analysis or CORE

Named for and endowed by the late Susan Hirt Hagen, a long-time board member of Erie Insurance coverage, which was co-founded by her father, HO Hirt, CORE was fashioned in 1998 to deal with issues about teen being pregnant in Erie County.

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New constructing, broader mission

The mission has been expanded together with the constructing, mentioned James Hodge, an assistant professor of psychology and director of CORE

This system, which had been positioned in a ranch-style home on Jordan Street, has moved into a brand new headquarters fashioned by the wedding of that 19-century brick home with a contemporary steel-and-glass construction to create an 11,000,square- foot advanced.

The old Federal House and the new expansion are shown, on June 6, 2022, at the eastern end of the Penn State Behrend campus in Harborcreek Township.  The Federal House is undergoing a multi-million expansion and improvement.

Erie Insurance coverage Chairman Thomas Hagen, whose late spouse endowed this system, joined forces with Penn State Behrend to fund the renovation and enlargement.

Behrend Chancellor Ralph Ford mentioned Hagen requested that no particulars be supplied concerning the actual quantity of his contribution.

“He was the foremost donor on this challenge,” Ford mentioned. “With out his help and with out his imaginative and prescient it might not have occurred.”

First floor office room of the newly expanded section of the Federal House is shown, on June 6, 2022, at the eastern end of the Penn State Behrend campus in Harborcreek Township.  The Federal House is undergoing a multi-million expansion and improvement.

Hagen not solely provided funding, he supplied the thought, Ford mentioned.

“The constructing has sat right here on campus and we now have been on the lookout for a use for it for over 30 years,” Ford mentioned. “We had considered it earlier than he approached us, however we didn’t have the precise imaginative and prescient.”

Ford mentioned he likes that the constructing is without doubt one of the first issues drivers see as they move by on the Bayfront Connector. He additionally likes what this system says a couple of campus typically recognized for its engineering and enterprise packages.

“It means so much,” Ford mentioned. “It is a kind of nice tasks that has been nice from starting to finish. This highlights the nice work that’s being finished by the Susan Hirt Hagen CORE Middle.”

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The Federal House conference room is shown, on June 6, 2022. The Federal House, at the eastern end of the Penn State Behrend campus in Harborcreek Township, is undergoing a multi-million expansion and improvement.  A portrait of Tom Hagen benefactor of the project and chairman of Erie Insurance, hangs in the background.

Essential to the household

Hagen, whose portrait hangs within the convention room, mentioned he stands by this system’s mission.

“It has been essential to our household and to my spouse, who was actually the founding father of it,” Hagen mentioned. “It was one thing that was very close to and pricey to her. It is actually blossomed over time since.”

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James Hodge, director of Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research, and Evaluation or CORE shows at the newly expanded section of the Federal House, on June 6, 2022, at the eastern end of the Penn State Behrend campus in Harborcreek Township.  The Federal House is undergoing a multi-million expansion and improvement.

In the present day, CORE is targeted on a broader mission, to review and develop “issues that youth have to develop up and performance at a excessive stage,” Hodge mentioned.

That is finished via mentoring packages in Erie County center and excessive colleges.

Generally, “We take the present on the street. We have now faculty districts that may enroll and we are going to write a yr’s price of curriculum to mentor college students,” Hodge mentioned.