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Red brick house with white trim, front porch, and surrounded by lush green trees, shrubs, plants, and grass

About the Innkeepers, the Mansion and the Family

The Innkeepers

Steve and Lisa Freysz – After many years of visiting, researching and learning about bed and breakfasts from other innkeepers, Steve and Lisa purchased Spencer House Bed & Breakfast in August 2018 as the culmination of their longtime dream to have their own bed and breakfast. While Lisa has over 20 years of experience cooking in restaurants and for a church day care, Steve, whose experience is in management, also is quite the cook as well and together make a great team providing guests with welcoming hospitality, quality service and great food. From their first visit they fell in love with the great detail that exists in every part of the Spencer House, and they enjoy sharing their home with their guests while helping to maintain this elegant piece of history for many years to come.

The Mansion

Now known as the Spencer House, the home is a true Second Empire Victorian mansion and is a transitional dwelling incorporating elements of both Stick and Queen Anne styles. The home, rumored to contain a hidden treasure, was built by Judah Colt Spencer as a wedding present for his son William and a local Erie girl who changed her mind and jilted him just before the wedding.

After that experience William traveled for a period and ended up in Philadelphia where he met Mary DuPuy, a girl with modern ideas and dare we say, a college girl. They fell in love and married in 1880, but Mary initially refused to move into the mansion right away, knowing it wasn’t her house. After a bit, they did move in where they lived their lives together and raised their family of 6 children. Upon William’s death in 1920, the house passed on to his son, Judah Colt Spencer, or J.C. Spencer as he was known around Erie. Mary continued to live in the house until her passing in 1933. JC, like his predecessors, also served as the bank’s president for many years. J.C. was the last of the Spencers to live in the house and passed away in 1980 at the ripe old age of 96. There are a few locals who fondly remember J.C. for his oversized candy bars and butler costume on Halloween, his constant Doberman companion, and for his flying out of the driveway without looking to see if there was any traffic.

After JC’s passing, the home was rented for a few years and then was vacant until it was purchased by Keith and Patricia Hagenbuch in 1991. After much restoration, the Hagenbuchs opened the home in 1992 as Erie’s first bed and breakfast, which was received by the town to much acclaim. More than 146 years after its construction, this Second Empire Victorian home is still an architectural showpiece welcoming even more guests to a glimpse of the past.

Now about that “treasure” that is rumored to be somewhere in the house. Based on information from several Spencer relatives, the secret “treasure” is no longer so secret…when the cornerstones were being placed, there was a lock of the unknown fiancée’s hair placed inside one of them. Maybe that’s why it took Mary so long to move in. We value that treasure, but we also think the real gift is this wonderful mansion built with love for the Spencer family, our family, and our guests who stay with us.

The Family

The history of the Spencer family begins with Judah Colt. The largest rush of settlers to Erie occurred in 1797 and 1798 under a plan that gave the settler 100 acres gratis and sold him 100 more at one dollar per acre. Judah Colt was a land proprietor and chief agent for the land company and owned some 400 acres off Walnut Creek just to the southwest of Erie. This tract of land made it possible for him to control a fair amount of the local trade on Lake Erie and made him a very prominent businessman in the village. In these years, Judah Colt was located at Greenfield, now known as Colt Station, Erie County. His extensive diary covers the years 1796-1811.

In the 1830s, his nephew and namesake Judah Colt Spencer came from Connecticut to live and work for his uncle. Some years later, Judah Colt died and young Judah Colt Spencer decided to continue his uncle’s work and stay in the village. In 1852, Judah Colt Spencer and a couple of businessmen founded the First National Bank of Erie, only the 12th bank in the nation of its kind. He then served as its president for more than two decades. Following in the family footsteps, his only son William Spencer became the next bank president. A dominating figure in connection with finance, business, and civic affairs, William Spencer occupied 519 West 6th Street for many years. Mr. Spencer received his early education at the Erie Academy and went on to graduate from Princeton University as a member of the class of 1870 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Following an extended tour of Europe, Mr. Spencer returned to Erie and assumed a clerical position at First National Bank.

When Judah Colt Spencer died vacating the presidential office, William Spencer became chief executive officer of the institution. He held this position until 1920.

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