Penn State Behrend is renovating and repurposing the historic Federal House to create a new home for the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research, and Evaluation (CORE). The $6.3 million project, which began in January 2021, is being funded by private support and by the University.
The college will preserve the original structure of the Federal House—the oldest brick building in Harborcreek Township—and connect it to a new, modern-design building that will allow CORE to expand its school-focused and community programs, including a partnership with the Community Schools Initiative. CORE programs have an impact on more than 3,000 youth across the Erie region every year.
The Federal House, which is located on Station Road, is believed to have been built in 1838 by Thomas Bonnell, a cobbler. He and his wife, Eva, raised nine children in the two-story home, which also served as a stagecoach stop.
Later, the home was used as a "safe house" for enslaved people traveling the Underground Railroad. One of the fireplaces hid a tunnel, according to records from the Harborcreek Historical Society.
A camera at the construction site is providing real-time and time-lapse videos of the project: