Back in the day, Sharon’s east side buzzed with commerce and elegance: mom-and-pop shops, gas stations, and mansions laced the landscape.
All that, however, is alive today only in the upper east side’s eclectic history. On Saturday, roughly 150 people caught a glimpse of East Hill’s colorful past, during three walking tours, starting at 12:30, 2:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
The walking tours, courtesy of the Sharon Historical Society and Beautification Commission, started on East State Street at Jefferson Avenue. There, Goldberg Plaza, built in 1927, included Kroger, a bakery, drugstore, and deli. It’s now a parking lot and the Medical Arts Building.
The history walks were all part of WaterFire Sharon, an event that drew thousands of people on a hot steamy mid-September day.
Brian Kepple and John Zavinski, the historical society’s vice president, led the walks, which focused on areas between Jefferson and Case avenues.
“Every few years, they would vote to annex a portion of the land,” said Kepple, a member of the Sharon Beautification Commission and the Sharon Historical Society.
A 39-page booklet that described each of the 29 tour stops, complete with maps and photos, guided the walkers. Zavinski, The Herald’s graphics and design editor, did most of the legwork on the booklet.
Some structures in Sharon were moved to other spots, like the mansion built in 1893 by Joseph Snedden, Zavinski said.
Initially, it stood at the northwest corner of Jefferson and State, before moving further up Jefferson to make way for a Mobil gas station.
A second story was added to the structure, now known as The Jefferson Building, which includes law offices.
Across the street from the Medical Arts Building sits an empty lot, where St. Joseph Church plus its school and recreation center – known as the “Josephinum” – once stood. The original building was completed in 1892.
The congregation grew quickly, and the church became difficult to maintain. Some families moved to the Church of Notre Dame in Hermitage.
A new church for St. Joseph, dedicated in 1965, was built on Case Avenue at East State Street.
St. Joseph Church was once considered a potential location for a Shenango Valley-based Catholic diocese, Zavinski said. But the idea apparently faded. The church is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie.
Kepple noted the small building at 797 E. State St. Built in 1949, it most recently housed Domino’s Pizza. Before that, it was Bello’s Pizza and, originally, Ferd’s Nut Shop ran by Ferd Dalo.
Rite Aid, at State and Stambaugh Avenue, stands where a movie theater had been planned years ago, Zavinski said.
Before Rite Aid construction started in 1996, the corner included an office building, doctors’ offices, and a bar called “The Office.” The spot also was supposed to be a site for the former Shenango Inn, which ended up on Kimberly Road.
The block where Walgreens sits included a grocery store, drugstore, barber shop, and May’s Shoe Repair, Kepple said.
Incorporated in 1841, Sharon grew through annexation.
McGonigle Ambulance Service has taken over 960 E. State St., a Tudor Revival-style structure built in 1930 and formerly a Pennzoil gas station.
At 982 E. State St. sits the Fred Kloos and Son Service station, most recently run by Bill Griffith, who died in 2020. There, an attendant still pumps gas for motorists and washes their windshields, as was common before 1970.
“It’s the only full-service station in Sharon,” Kepple said.
For more information, visit “Sharon Historical Society — Pennsylvania” on Facebook, sharonhistoricalsociety.com, or the organization’s new headquarters, 110 E. State St.