SHARON – Located on 58 acres along North Sharpsville Avenue in Sharon, the former Westinghouse Electric plabt was the site for operations of a number of companies for more than a century.
Driggs-Seabury Corp., which made guns and gun mounts for ships and military shot batteries, had a plant where Sharon Coatings is now located, near the foot of Meek Street.
Later on, Willard Irving Twombly, a New York entrepreneur and car designer, hired Driggs-Seabury to build a small, two-seater motor car — called the Twombly — at the site. The car had a short-lived production and very few, one of which is owned by the Mercer County Historical Society, remain.
But starting in 1922, Westinghouse’s manufacturing brought the location to prominence. The company’s electric division built transformers and dramatically added employees over the years. At its height, in 1957, just under 10,000 got paychecks from the company.
Before it closed in 1985, the Westinghouse plant manufactured electrical transformers as part of the company’s electric subsidiary. During World War II, the factory was refitted to manufacture electric torpedoes for the Navy.
The factory made more than 10,000 torpedoes for the war effort.
By 1984, employment dropped to less than 600. Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse said at the time the Sharon plant was a money-losing operation and closed the plant in 1985.
Much of the complex was later designated a Superfund site by the EPA after the suspected carcinogen PCBs were found in sections of the plant. The chemical was used in transformer production and is regarded as a hazardous material by the EPA.
It took nearly 15 years before the plant was removed from the Superfund list.
Westinghouse, then its successor company Viacom, was charged for the cleanup. Sections of the plant are now being used by industrial companies such as Sharon Coating and railroad parts supplier American Industries.
Winner Development is renovating the office building and other areas of the plant to house retail and commercial businesses.