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

For many years, it sat vacant and unused along the eastern edge of Penn Condition Behrend‘s campus in Harborcreek Township.

While the township’s oldest brick residence — constructed in 1838 — crumbled exterior, squirrels scattered walnuts inside. In previously moments, the developing that Behrend dubbed Federal Home had been a stagecoach halt and a protected property on the Underground Railroad.

Now, 34 several years just after Larry and Kathryn Smith donated the property to Behrend, the 184-yr-aged framework has a new glimpse and a new intent.

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Next a $6.6 million restoration and growth, the residence in which cobbler Thomas Bonnell and his wife Eva elevated 9 young children is now the property of the Susan Hirt Hagen Middle for Neighborhood Outreach, Exploration, and Evaluation or C.O.R.E.

Named for and endowed by the late Susan Hirt Hagen, a extended-time board member of Erie Insurance policy, which was co-launched by her father, H.O. Hirt, C.O.R.E. was formed in 1998 to tackle problems about teenager pregnancy in Erie County.

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New constructing, broader mission

The mission has been expanded alongside with the constructing, explained James Hodge, an assistant professor of psychology and director of C.O.R.E.

The program, which experienced been positioned in a ranch-model household on Jordan Highway, has moved into a new headquarters shaped by the marriage of that 19-century brick household with a present day steel-and-glass construction to generate an 11,000,sq.-foot complex.

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 plan Chairman Thomas Hagen, whose late spouse endowed the plan, joined forces with Penn Point out Behrend to fund the renovation and enlargement.

Behrend Chancellor Ralph Ford claimed Hagen questioned that no aspects be provided about the actual total of his contribution.

“He was the big donor on this undertaking,” Ford mentioned. “Without his guidance and without having his vision it would not have transpired.”

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 only supplied funding, he supplied the notion, Ford claimed.

“The creating has sat in this article on campus and we have been searching for a use for it for in excess of 30 a long time,” Ford claimed. “We experienced imagined about it prior to he approached us, but we did not have the ideal eyesight.”

Ford explained he likes that the building is 1 of the first issues drivers see as they move by on the Bayfront Connector. He also likes what the plan claims about a campus frequently recognised for its engineering and organization applications.

“It indicates a good deal,” Ford mentioned. “It really is one particular of those wonderful assignments that has been great from starting to conclude. This highlights the terrific get the job done that is becoming carried out by the Susan Hirt Hagen C.O.R.E. Heart.”

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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 Inurance, hangs in the background.

Significant to the family members

Hagen, whose portrait hangs in the convention place, explained he stands by the program’s mission.

“It is really been critical to our loved ones and to my wife, who was really the founder of it,” Hagen mentioned. “It was one thing that was pretty in close proximity to and expensive to her. It can be genuinely blossomed about the several years considering that.”

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James Hodge, director of Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research, and Evaluation or C.O.R.E. 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.

These days, C.O.R.E. is focused on a broader mission, to review and create “factors that youth will need to improve up and purpose at a large degree,” Hodge explained.

That is performed by mentoring plans in Erie County center and superior universities.

In most situations, “We just take the display on the street. We have school districts that will sign up and we will create a year’s truly worth of curriculum to mentor learners,” Hodge reported.