George Deutsch retiring as executive director of Hagen History Center

Local News

This week, George Deutsch announced to the Board of Directors of the Erie County Historical Society-Hagen History Center he will retire as executive director, effective Dec. 31, 2021.

Deutsch, an Erie native, has held the position for the past five years.

“When George was hired in 2016, we only had the Battles properties, the Watson-Curtze Mansion and the Carriage House open,” said Board President Kelly Montefiori. “During George’s tenure, we renovated and constructed buildings, installed more than 20 new exhibits, consolidated our impressive archives and positioned interactive displays throughout the museum. We also expanded our staff from six to 18 employees.”

Under Deutsch’s management, the Hagen History Center purchased and renovated the 5,500-square-foot Wood-Morrison House. It serves as an education center and houses exhibits that tell the stories of men and women involved in Erie County’s military and naval history along with a fascinating gallery of the Erie Extension Canal that ran next to the building in the 1800s. In 2021, he opened the recently constructed 6,000-square-foot new exhibit building to the public.

Deutsch was involved in acquiring notable artifacts — such as Oliver Hazard Perry’s telescope that is on display in the Welcome Gallery — and gathering treasured Erie-County-related Civil War objects, images, books and interactive exhibits. He also worked to preserve the Hagen History Center’s Battles properties in Girard and facilitated the creation and installation of the state historic marker, honoring Charlotte Elizabeth Battles. 

“In his five years as our leader, George has taken this Erie County lead asset from a local museum to a nationally recognized tourist destination,” Montefiori said.

Deutsch is currently working on a 2022 expansion of the museum’s new exhibit building. The second floor will feature the story of Erie County’s evolution through immigrant settlements and the introduction of homegrown industries.

“It’s been an honor for the past five and a half years to lead the Hagen History Center through this tremendous growth,” Deutsch said. “I want to thank all the staff, board and members of the community who have helped in our success. I’m looking forward to contributing to the story of Erie’s past as I move into this new phase of my life

In retirement, Deutsch will remain active in preserving history. He is writing a book on the famous 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry, focusing on the untold history of its last year in the Civil War.

The board will be conducting a national search for Deutsch’s replacement, and an interim executive director will be named in November.

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