First Presbyterian Church of Sharpsvile ... is an imposing building situated on a terrace on Ridge Ave. between Fifth and Seventh Sts. Built of native stone from the Blaney farm east of Sharpsville, the structure belies the years of hard work and many obstacles overcome in its actual construction, for it fell victim to the "Great Depression."
The history of the church begins May 12, 1879, when a committee of the Presbytery of Beaver organized a group of 28 charter members. The committee included the Rev. W. M. Taylor of Mount Jackson, Lawrence County, the Rev. J. M. Neely of New Wilmington and Elder James Wilson of Sharon.
Members of the new church met in Pierce Hall (Park Way Apartments [in 1974]) and in other buildings until 1882. At that time a frame church building was erected on the corner of Main and First Sts. at a cost of $4,000.
The Rev. Jesse W. Hamilton served the church in 1872, and was the first regular pastor of the church. Other early pastors were the Rev. Mr. Newell, 1874; the Rev. Mr. Wilson,1883; the Rev. Mr. Wallace, 1885; theRev. Mr. [Samuel L.] Boston, 1887; the Rev. Mr. [Charles E.] Edwards,1892; the Rev. Mr. [John R.] Finley [Findley], 1896; the Rev. Mr. [John E.] Fulton, 1902; the Rev. Mr. [Andrew F.] Heltman, 1907; the Rev. Mr. Rynder, 1910; the Rev. Mr. White,1914, and the Rev. Mr. Fohner,1919.*
The Rev. Harry E. Woods became pastor in 1923, serving until 1945, and it was during his pastorate that work was begun on the new edifice.
The site chosen for the building was the exact center of town, equidistant from Buhl Farm, West End, East End and the viaduct. The house and lot chosen owned by the McCrackenfamily, was purchased and the house moved. Since the property was situated on a steep rise in the street, there was considerable excavating required, the cost of which was covered by selling the dirt.
In 1928, the cornerstone was laid, but the Depression made it impossible for pledges to be fulfilled, with only $5,000 of the $50,000 pledged paid. However, most men and women of the church provided help by actual labor, giving their time and talents to fulfill the dream of the church.
Because money was so scarce, most of the work was done by volunteer labor, progress was slow, and the congregation moved into a very unfinished building in 1935.
Both church services and Sunday school classes were held in the education wing, which was without plaster or partitions and with only subflooring. Chairs were rearranged for classes and worship, and many pennies from the children's offering were dropped to fall through the wide cracks in the floor to the mud surface of the basement.
A mile of pennies was sought, and as the pennies became dollars the basement was cemented. A small pane of glass in a window in the educational wing cost a quarter, a real sacrifice in the Depression days. The sanctuary was completed by means of an insurance program.
Excerpt from an article that appeared on pages 80 - 81 of the Sharpsville Souvenir Tabloid section of The Herald, Sharon, Pa., Saturday, June 22, 1974