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Forensic Investigation Center

  • The Forensic Investigation Center (FIC) at Gannon University is devoted to academic excellence through a unique multidisciplinary program and delivers outstanding educational, research, and professional training opportunities for students and/or current professionals. This innovative learning facility looks like an actual family dwelling, but it is really a "working laboratory" where students practice the skills they've learned in the classroom to find evidence and solve crimes.  Renovations to convert a former fraternity house into the Forensic Investigation Center was completed in April 2014.

    The Forensic Investigation Center provides comprehensive training in all aspects of forensic investigation, through a combination of theoretical, scientific and applicable techniques utilized during crime scene processing.  With a functioning forensic laboratory, multipurpose classroom, interview/interrogation room, Firearms Training Simulator area, and crime scene re-enactment areas, this hands-on learning environment provides a unique experience for any criminologist or forensic scientist.

    Through the use of simulated crime scenes, students will learn forensic principles such as entry procedures, photography, evidence documentation and collection, latent fingerprint development techniques, bloodstain pattern analysis, trace evidence, and many other aspects of forensic investigation.  With this approach, students will experience a wide variety of crime scenes and practice techniques, gaining valuable practical skills not typically available through an internship or on-the-job training.

    The FIC is an innovative learning facility that provides students and professionals a working laboratory and living area to teach the following skills:

    • Behavioral assessment
    • Interviewing techniques
    • Evidence collection and preservation
    • Crime analysis, reporting and expert testimony 
    • Deception detection
    • Forensic analysis of firearms, impressions, finger prints, and trace evidence
    • Risk mitigation
    • Emergency evacuation
    • Firearms Training Simulation
    • Surveillance and counter-surveillance procedures

    The FIC was designed to support the newly revised Criminal Justice program.  Recent developments in the Criminal Justice System have been integrated into the new curricula to prepare students to effectively address current issues and challenges in the field as well as using new technology to address the continuous evolution of crime and crime fighting.  The curriculum includes various specializations such as Forensic Investigation and allows for more hands-on and dynamic learning experiences to better prepare our students for a variety of 21st century careers. 

    Gannon University's Criminal Justice Program offers a myriad of learning experiences in one location. Education at the Center promotes leadership, character, and public service while inspiring and preparing students to embark on careers such as forensic scientists, criminologists, crime scene examiners, crime laboratory analysts, and officers working for the local, state and federal government.

    History of the House

    The Forensic Investigation Center, located at 246 West Sixth Street, was originally known as the George Black House. The residence, built in 1908 by George I. Black, is part of the West Sixth Street Historic District. This Historic District functioned as Erie's "Millionaires Row" during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As a group, the buildings and mansions located within the West Sixth Street Historic District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    George Ingles Black Sr., born January 10, 1870, built the house with his then wife, Laura F. Marshall in 1908.  George and Laura were married April 20th 1897 at her home on the corner of 6th and Sassafras, which now houses the Gannon Admissions building.   After residing in Cleveland for a few short years, George and Laura decided to move back to Erie between 1907 and 1908.  Land for 246 West 6th St. was deeded over to George and Laura in 1907 from his widowed mother, Mrs. William T. Black, who lived in the house next door at 254 West 6th St.  

    George Black, and particularly his father William T. were well known in Erie's manufacturing district. His father William was the owner and president of Black Manufacturing Company (1894-1899), a nationally-known maker of the Tribune Bicycle.  George was the treasure of the company and held the US patent no. 564,301, issued on July 21st, 1896 for a bicycle pedal.  William was also the owner and/or involved with the following companies: Germer and Black (stove manufacturing); Barr, Johnson and Company (stove manufacturing); and the Walker Foundry Company which was in the Gray Iron Castings business.  George was the president of Walker Foundry until 1922, when the company experienced financial difficulties.    He was also associated with Griffin Manufacturing (hardware), Cheny and Huron Mutual and Taper Sleeve Pulley Works.     

    George and his wife Laura later divorced in 1922 due to "cruel and barbarous treatment" experienced by Laura during the previous 6 years.  Upon divorcing, Laura and George sold the house to John Hamberger, who lived at the residence for less than a year before selling it to Ralph and Effie Potter.  Both Ralph and Effie Potter died at the home, with Ralph passing away on September 15, 1930 and Effie passing away on July 12, 1961.  Upon her passing, Effie's granddaughter Nancy Potter, and her husband Robert Fisher, moved into the house.  After residing there for about a year and a half, Nancy and Robert sold the house to the Gannon TKE Fraternity.  The TKE brothers lived in the house for 49 years (1963 to 2012), after which Gannon purchased the house, which became the Forensic Investigation Center two years later. 

    For more information on the house or its original owners, please contact Dr. Julia Mack (