Erie Mansion for sale, former home of famed oil refiner Philip Bayer

  • The house was built in 1899 and still features much of its original European woodwork
  • The structure is divided by sliding doors into eight units, three commercial and five residential

Douglas Orlosky was trying to sell the Anastasia mansion, not buy it, when he showed the three-story Erie mansion to a friend in 1992.

However, Orlosky also brought along his wife, Veronica, who immediately fell in love with the mansion, which was built in 1899 and retains much of its original European woodwork.

“My friend couldn’t see past the partially restored condition he was in at the time,” said Douglas Orlosky, a retired real estate agent. “Veronica said, ‘That would be a great project.’ I said, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ ”

Thirty years later, the Orloskys sell the Anastasia Mansion, 551 W. Eighth St., as part of their retirement plans. The asking price for the 7,657 square foot home is $549,000.

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Anastasia Mansion was built in 1899 by Frank Neubauer, whose family owned the Arcade Hotel in downtown Erie. Its most famous owner was Philip J. Bayer, an oil refiner who is said to have played a role in founding the Quaker State Refining Company and Pennzoil.

Bayer lived in the mansion from 1917 until his death in 1933. It was during this time that large gatherings were held at the mansion, featuring some of the best known people in the booming oil industry.

“(A Bayer relative) said PJ would meet these people in the living room,” Veronica Orlosky said. “That’s where he had his favorite chair and also read the day’s (business) papers and watched the carts go up and down Eighth Street.”

Bayer and his wife had no children but shared the house for a time with his sister, Sophia Ritchey, and daughter, Eleanor, before the Ritcheys eventually moved to Florida.

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When Eleanor Ritchey died in 1968, she left her entire $4.3 million inheritance — much of it in Quaker state stock — to her 161 pet dogs, according to a 1984 article. from the Washington Post.

After the last dog died in 1984, the money went to Auburn University. By then, the fortune had grown to around $12 million.

The first floor of Anastasia Mansion looks like it did when the Bayers and Ritcheys lived there. Six gas fireplaces remain operational, although they have not been lit for at least 30 years due to insurance costs. The house is heated with radiators.

Anastasia Mansion, 551 W. Eighth St., is on sale for $549,000.  The three-story home, built in 1899, features much of the original woodwork and six gas fireplaces, including this one in the entry hall.

Before the Orloskys purchased the mixed-use mansion, it was owned by Schaal Funeral Home and leased to the American Cancer Society for approximately 25 years.

The rooms in the mansion all feature intricate woodwork made by European carpenters from European timber.

“It was a forfeit,” Douglas Orlosky said with a smile. “The carpenters came with the wood, or vice versa.”

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The structure is divided into eight units, three commercial and five residential. Several units can be combined since they are separated only by wooden sliding doors.

The home at the Anastasia Mansion, 551 W. Eighth St., which is on sale for $549,000.  It was built in 1899.

Anastasia Mansion currently houses a spa (Veronica’s Day Spa) and an art studio (Annabella’s at Anastasia Mansion), which are expected to remain after a sale. It sits on nearly half an acre, including a 33-space parking lot.

“Parking is a really nice bonus,” said Amanda Bogert, vice president of sales and marketing at Sherry Bauer Real Estate Services. “Few of these houses in Erie have so much parking.”

Contact David Bruce at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ETNBruce.

Laura J. Boyer