Sharon, only two miles east of the Ohio border, was settled in 1803 by Benjamin Bentley and laid out by William Budd in 1815. Sharon and Mercer were joined by a road in 1815, which was continued west after the first bridge was built across the Shenango River in 1818–1819 by Samuel Clark and his son. In 1836, the Erie Extension of the Beaver and Erie Canal spurred the shipment of local coal, and later, coal from the Lake Superior region fed the growing number of Sharon-area iron furnaces. As canal shipping waned in the 1860s, several railroads opened lines to Sharon, including the E&P and the A&GW.
After the establishment of the Sharon Steel Company's south works and their subsequent purchase by the Union Steel Company, and after that, by United States Steel, the area surrounding the plant was named Farrell in 1912 for U.S. Steel CEO James A. Farrell. A workers' village grew around the plant, which drew other companies making ingots and bars, railroad cars, gasoline engines, tin plate, wire, and electric machinery. The Sharon Iron Works was the largest plant in Mercer County by the 1880s. In 1885, an oil pipeline was laid from the oil fields in Butler and Venango counties through Sharon to Youngstown, bringing Italian workers into the area and swelling the populations of both Sharon and Farrell.
Sharon became known for its “solid wealth” and a spate of very large, turn-of-the-twentieth-century, brick and frame houses along E. State Street, especially in the 200 and 300 blocks. An eclectic red brick Italian Villa–style house (1875; 555 E. State Street) was built for J. M. Willson, who sold furniture; it became a funeral home in 1891 and is today the Sample-O'Donnell Funeral Home. Two substantial houses designed by architect Charles F. Owsley, the English Cotswold-style Bachman house (c. 1910; 959 E. State Street) and the Tudor Revival George H. Boyd House (1907; 869 E. State Street), illustrate their owners' wealth. The sandstone Gothic Revival St. John's Episcopal Church by Owsley and Boucherle in 1893–1895 with additions of 1914–1933 by Cram and Ferguson (226 W. State Street) is distinguished by a massive, square crenellated tower at the northwest corner. The First Presbyterian Church of 1926–1927 (600 E. State Street), designed by Nicklas and Rodrick of Cleveland, has stained glass windows by the Pittsburgh Stained Glass Studio.
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