Tom Hagen: "It's not a very attractive building in my view. I have never particularly cared for it."

Tom Hagen, chairman of the board of Erie Insurance, loves history and architecture.

He is less enamored by the look of his latest purchase.

Hagen, who has been working over the past couple of years to purchase and restore a number of historic properties on West Sixth Street in an area once known as Millionaires’ Row, has talked in the past about Erie properties that should have been saved from the wrecking ball, but weren’t.

Inevitably, it’s a conversation that leads him to recall the Charles M. Reed Jr. mansion at 420 W. Sixth St., built in 1868 and demolished in 1970 to make way for a new one-story home for the Erie County Motor Club, or AAA.

Hagen said he’s not sure the decision to destroy the historic home of one of Erie’s founding families “is a decision we would make today.”

What he does know is that he’s no fan of what replaced the mansion.

“It’s not a very attractive building in my view. I have never particularly cared for it,” he said.

Yet on Tuesday, an LLC controlled by Hagen paid $1.5 million to buy the building at 420 W. Sixth St., owned jointly since 2005 by the United Way of Erie County and Early Connections, which administers United Way's Success By 6 program and offers preschool and extended-day classes.

Hagen said last week that he doesn’t have a specific plan for the 13,000-square-foot structure or the land on which it sits.

“It has interested me for a long time,” Hagen said. “It’s a nice big piece of property and it’s next door to some other properties we have. It made sense to see if we could pick it up.”

There’s nothing Hagen can do to bring back the mansion, originally owned by the son of General Charles Manning Reed, who built what is now the Erie Club in 1848.

Hagen stressed he’s not certain what he will do with the property.

“We haven’t got any specific plans,” said Hagen, who is one of Pennsylvania’s wealthiest residents. “This thing came up kind of quickly.”

In fact, he’s not sure if he will remove or try to improve the 50-year-old building that’s been a personal sore spot for so many years.

“We have to evaluate the whole thing and we haven’t had a chance,” he said.

Hagen did offer a simple promise, however.

“Something is going to be done there,” Hagen said. “I don’t know what it’s going to be. Whatever is done will be an improvement.”

Contact Jim Martin at jmartin@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ETNMartin.