The home at 220 W 9th Street was originally built by Captain John Stevens Richards and Adelaide Philadelphia McAllaster Richards around 1888. The family’s original home was 214 W 9th (where the Lodge at Sass stands currently). John and Adelaide’s daughter Mary actually married her neighbor (from across the street at 205 W 9th), George Metcalf and they lived in the home at 214 W 9th after they were married, which is when John and Adelaide had this home at 220 W 9th built. Adelaide was a daughter of the American Revolution, her great grandfather, Richard McAllaster, was a member of the first board of selectmen of Antrim NH, 1775. He served in the Canadian expedition of 1776 and was in the battle of The Cedars.
These photos of John Stevens Richards and Adelaide McAllaster Richards were found on Ancestry.com
Capt. John Stevens Richards’ biography is well published, as he was a very prominent member of early Erie society and incredibly wealthy. In addition to being a director of the 2nd National Bank of Erie, he took over the presidency of the William Scott Coal Company upon William’s death (he was also the executor of Scott’s estate) and was President of the board of directors of Hamot Hospital.
According to the ever useful History of Erie County PA by J. E. Reed: “John Stevens Richards was born on the 5th day of June, 1821, at the Richards homestead, in Erie, Pennsylvania. He was the son of John and Ann Hinton Richards, natives of Cardiganshire, North Wales, but who were married in Erie in 1814. John Richards,the elder, went to sea from his home in Wales at a very early age, and had circumnavigated the globe three times when he entered New York City and apprenticed himself to Brown & Bell, ship builders. When the War of 18I2 broke out this firm was engaged by the Government to construct war vessels, and during the building of the slips of Perry’s fleet, forwarded a considerable number of men from New York to Erie, the elder Richards being among the number. Subsequently, and throughout his life, he made his home in that city, finally engaging in ship building.”
John Stevens Richards (the younger) began his career in shipbuilding along with his father, but soon realized that sailing the open waters was more appealing to him. After starting as deckhand on a number of vessels sailing the lakes, he was given command of ships in Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan. He eventually became involved in shipping coal, and settled in Erie into that business.
Richards died in 1897 and Adelaide remained in the home until her death in 1913 when it was purchased by William Hamilton. William was born in England and his family came to Erie in 1870 when William was 5 years old. William’s father William was a machinist and William (the younger) went into the same line of work and eventually became president of the Erie Car Works, which manufactured freight cars. William Hamilton took over the Presidency of the Erie Car Works after William Galbraith (whose home is now the Women’s Club of Erie on w 6th and Myrtle). He also served as the President of the Erie Chamber of Commerce, served as Water Commissioner, was President of the Erie School Board, Director of Hamot Hospital, Director of the Elmwood Home, and was President of the Erie YMCA. He was also a candidate for Mayor at one point. He was instrumental in the creation of Zuck Park, single handedly planting a number of rose beds there.
According to his obituary: “Remaining active until his illness a week ago, he was a familiar part of the downtown scene, especially at the ‘Y’ where he would stop to talk with old friends.” The family lived in the home from around 1913 until 1922, when they temporarily moved to Newark OH to oversee the Erie Car Company’s absorption of a bankrupt Jewett Car Company outfit. Upon returning to Erie, the family lived at 2642 Glenwood Park Avenue until Charlotte’s death, when William moved in with his sister Hattie at 2920 Poplar Street.
The home at 220 W 9th was then occupied for only a couple of years by Neilsen Streuber, of a prominent local leather manufacturing family, when it was eventually sold to the Knights of Malta and the Church of Divine Science in 1923 to house their “club house.” By the 1940s the building became occupied by Erie Business College which was founded in 1884 and was run, until recently, as Erie Business Center (the home at 220 W 9th being a part of their campus which eventually included the building at 246 W 9th – built in 1969) and which closed permanently in 2014. The home was purchased in 2016 by DTW Development LLC (the sign in front of the property states ‘Walker Rose Development’) and it appears to be apartment rentals.