Lawrence Park Township was named in honor of Captain James Lawrence, Commandeer of the Frigate Chesapeake, and to pay tribute to Oliver Hazard Perry’s flagship, the U.S.S. Lawrence (named after Captain Lawrence).
In 1910, General Electric established its factory and officials envisioned and designed Lawrence Park as a “Garden City” (a concept that originated in England). The concept centered on providing a healthy and pleasing environment for the factory workers and local businesses by building homes with garden plots. The factory and residences were separated by a green belt, and parks were placed within the town. The first streets, such as Rankine, Silliman and Smithson, were laid out and named after famous scientists, inventors and engineers. By 1913, General Electric built 106 single homes on 40′ x 125′ plots and offered them at moderate prices with low monthly installments. They installed utilities, street lighting and planted 1,000 trees along the streets. Additionally, the Erie and Suburban Company offered trolley service into Erie with a line down Iroquois Avenue. G.E. also constructed the first four-room school and several commercial buildings.
The outbreak of World War I created a severe housing shortage for war workers and they abandoned the “Garden City” concept in favor of brick row houses with garden spaces for each home. Ultimately, they built almost 500 units that became the core of the community.
In 1926, Lawrence Park separated from Millcreek Township and incorporated as a First Class Township, thereby allowing the residents to govern themselves. Since then other small neighborhoods developed, and between World War I and World War II more streets opened for single homes. In the 1950’s, the Lake Cliff area was further developed with homes, a park, and in later years a boat launch area.
Although little undeveloped area remains in the Township, Lawrence Park continues to change and progress. The row homes, formerly blue-collar areas, welcome the influx of new people as younger families discover the value of these row homes. With the continuing boom in do-it-yourself home improvements, many row houses are now transforming into mini show places.
Today, Lawrence Park Township with its parks, playgrounds, historic homes and community activities has evolved into a great place to live.