The Italianate/Colonial Revival Victorian style home at 231 W 21st St was built for Emil and Mary Streuber in 1882. Emil Streuber was born in Alsace, France in 1846 and came to Erie with his parents shortly after the Civil War. His family established a Tannery business (Streuber Brothers Tannery) and had their headquarters on State Street between 18th and 19th.
Eventually the family expanded the business and built a belt factory between East 21st St and the Nickel Plate Railroad on 19th Street, between Holland and German. Emil also owned stone quarries. Emil was an animal enthusiast, having many pets, livestock, and wild animals, including various deer, rats, monkeys, reptiles, rare birds and a stocked aquarium. He once purchased a herd of deer to reside in Glenwood Park, for them to be an attraction to the “sylvan resort.” He would often put on animal displays for the children in nearby Sarah Reed’s Home for the Friendless and St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum. The couple had three children, Albert, Arthur, and Harriet.
Emil died in 1911 and his wife Mary Rindernecht-Streuber died in 1927. Their daughter Harriet married William G Lay and the couple lived in the home after Emil and Mary’s deaths. William G. Lay was the secretary/treasurer for the Gottfried Organ Company, which produced organs and parts for the Flegemaker Organ Company of Erie, and many others. Gottfried was once regarded as the “largest organ supply house in the world.” The Gottfried Company occupied the building at 1901 Myrtle (which is still standing). Gottfried Organs was established by Anton A. Gottfried and was in business in Erie, producing organs for 54 years before the company was sold to Standaart Organ Company out of Suffolk Virginia. Anton Gottfried came to Erie from Germany in 1888 after learning organ building in Switzerland, where he became associated with two of Europe’s premier organ builders. Gottfried was regarded as “a genius in the field of tone” and he brought that talent to Erie to produce thousands of organs for churches, homes and venues in Erie and far beyond.
After the Lays’ deaths, the home at 231 W 21st Street became a rooming house which had many residents over the years. It remained a rental/rooming house through the 1980s, when it fell into disrepair. In 1992, the property was purchased by Paul Cappa who completed major restoration work on the home and built the existing garage. Cappa was interviewed in an Erie Times News article in 2007: “‘It was a disaster,’ the 43-year-old church choir director said before giving details about the leaky roof, the asbestos-laden furnace, and the exterior wall by the main entrance that was completely caved in… In all — after restoring the inlaid marble and woodwork in the main parlors, sanding the hardwood floors and dozens of other projects — Cappa has spent about $140,000.”
This home is among the 35 contributing properties comprising the West 21st Street Historic District which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
As of December 2021, 231 W 21st Street is listed for sale for $175,000. It has 6 bedrooms, two bathrooms, and over 3,800 square feet.