Celebrating 100 years of Farrell Pennsylvania History — 1901-2001

(Return to the Archives Index Page)

History of Farrell Pennsylvania
Table of Contents

Part I

History of Farrell Pennsylvania
Part II

(The following article appeared in the 1951 Farrell Golden Jubilee issue of Farrell High School's Reflector.
It was written by Mrs. Elizabeth Heinze Broderick and Mrs. Betty Rose Broderick Gibbs)

World War I

[Veterans Square] With the start of the first World War, Farell's industries began making war materials for the Allies and a secondary “boom” held the town in its grip. In October, 1916 the American Sheet and Tin Plate Company announced the construction of one hundred homes in the new Shenango Boulevard district. Again crowded conditions prompted the building of a new grade school at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Bond Street. It was completed in 1917 and named for E. W. Pargny, president of the tin mill. By the end of the next year an additional fifty acres had been annexed from Hickory Township, raising the borough's land coverage to 1,055 acres. Subsequent annexations in 1923, 1925, and 1926 brought 295 acres under Farrell's jurisdiction.

Steel Strike of 1919

Farrell rejoiced with the rest of the world when the Armistice was signed, but was plunged into gloom the following year by a steel strike. The violence of the 1919 strike has been the only serious blot on the relations of labor and management in the local steel industries in fifty yers. It was in the year of the strike that the last grade school was built. L. R. Eckles Building was erected at the corner of Indiana Avenue and Negley Street to serve the school children of the fast-growing Boulevard [Shenango] and named in honor of Professor L. R. Eckles, third superintendent of the borough's schools.

[ Victoria Luca Barbu - 1927 Queen of Farrell]

Farrell's Silver Jubilee Celebration 1901-1926

As an aftermath of the war, the United States, especially her steel producing centers, experienced a “Leveling-off” period. Farrell was no exception and its people were depression victims in the early twenties. By 1924 Fortune began smiling again and the American Sheet and Tin Plate built four new hot mills. Spirits lifted and talk began of a Silver Jubilee celebration. However, because of the time involved in preparation for the event, it was not held until the week of July 4th to 9th, 1927. Excitement was paramount. Parades, a Pageant of Progress, a Baby Show, rides, concessions, exhibitions, an aerial bomb salute and the crowning of Victoria Luca (Mrs. John Barbu) as “Miss Farrell” thrilled 20,000 citizens.

The stock market crash and depression of 1929

Ups and downs in economics are not unfamiliar to residents of a steel center, but the market crash in 1929 was a new low. The nation rocked and Farrell rocked with it. Stark realization of the impact of the nationwide depression came when bread and soup lines began feeding the hungry, and relief and welfare organizations took on the almost impossible job of providing for those in dire need. The town's population dropped as workers left to find employment. The American Steel and Wire Company dismantled its plants and moved its equipment to Cleveland. Nevertheless, dark as those days were, fire in the hearts of the people and progressive leders kept the town alive and moving.

1932 - the Borough of Farrell incorporates as a city

[Farrell Post Office] On January 3, 1932, Farrell became a third class city. Voters elected Joseph Franek as mayor and Lewis Levine, Michael Nevant, Harry Gerber and John Krauss as councilmen. John Kaliney became the firt city controller and Joseph Cantelupe the first treasurer under the new government. Clyde G. Snowden, later the sheriff of Mercer County, was the last burgess of Farrell. Under this first administration, the Farrell City Park, later Roosevelt Memorial park, was dedicated during the Boosters' Club Fourth of Juyly celebration in 1932 and Veterans' Square at Federal Street and Spearman Avenue was developed. With the support of Mayor Franek the first Farrell Public Library board planned and formally opened their project on March 19, 1935 on the second floor of the Farrell Fire Department. Farrell today is anticipating the opening of a $100,000 livrary at the corner of Beechwood Avenue and Haywood street. Adam Stey, chairman of the present board, was one of the original members.

Farrell's second mayor, Lewis Levine, was to head the city's progress for the next twelve years by winning three consecutive elections in 1936, 1940 and 1944. During his first years in office the city became the possessor of a modern sewage disposal plant and in 1938 the long awaited new Post Office was built at the corner of Spearman Avenue and Haywood street under a Public Works Administration program. It was also under the PWA that the Farrell Senior High School was begun in 1938. The $690,000 structure was built on Haywood street east of Shenango Boulevard and was opened for classes in the fall of 1939.

World War II

The five years between 1940 and 1945 gave Farrell a new and different kind of civic duty. War raged in Europe. National defense measures had to be taken as well as keeping up a steady stream of war supplies to the Allies. This steel town had a big part to play in the coming world drama. A draft board was appointed and all eligible Farrell men registered on October 16, 1940. By the end of 1941 the United States was herself a nation at war. Farrell organized a strong civilian defense program to educate its people in the art of survival during bombing raids. Blackout drills, air-raid wardens, Red Cross emergency units and a secret communications center were integral parts of the home front. Steel production had to be upped to an unprecedented high if this country was to successfully defend democracy in the Pacific and in Europe. The only remaining steel holding in Farrell, the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation spent five million dollars expanding its armor plate production. With the armed services making a constant drain on the male working population, many of Farrell's women, including a small battalion of school teachers, donned the coveralls of the millworker to keep production at an “all-out for Victory” level.

It was in the year food rationing began, 1943, that the Mercer County Housing Authority was created. George J. Vermeire became the first executive director of the Authority on April 13, 1944. By October 15, 1945 Farrell had Steel City Terrace, a 150-apartment housing project in the southwestern portion of town.

Henry Roemer salvages Farrell's industrial life

[ Henry A. Roemer  and H Roemer Jr.] With the unconditional surrender of the Japanese, world hostilities ceased in 1945. On the heels of the country's great victory, Farrell was to feel the first threat to its economy since the depression of the thirties. The Carnegie-Illinois was abandoning its holdings here. Industrial life seemed doomed, but once again Farrell's leaders turned the tide toward survival. Led by Mayor Levine and Superintendent of Schools Carroll D. Kearns, now a representative in Congress, a committee of prominent townspeople approached Henry Roemer, president of the Sharon Steel Corporation. Their efforts were rewarded when on November 9, 1945. Mr. Roemer concluded negotiations for the purchase of the Farrell Works of the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation. Farrell breathed again.

Noted for constant modernization programs, the Sharon Steel Corporation brought new life to Farrell's steel industry. In August of 1947 it established the Sharonsteel Products Company of Pennsylvania here and a new 14" hot strip mill was completed in Farrell in April of 1949. Under the able management of its new president, Henry Roemer, Jr., and the chairmanship of its long-respected Chief Executive Officer, Henry Roemer, Sr., Sharon Steel is anticipating years of prosperity and labor harmony in Farrell.

The “Big Snow” of 1950

[Big Snow of 1950] No history of Farrell could fail to mention the “Big Snow” of 1950. Beginning the night of November 25th, twenty-nine inches of snow, unparalleled in thirty-seven years, crippled the business life of the community for almost four days. That weekend brought heroic efforts to open the town's main streets for emergency travel. Snowbound citizens pioneered their ways to local grocery stores while volunteers worked to clear flat roofs and millworkers formed “shovel gangs” to open the Sharon Steel Corporation mills.

[Idaho Street - Capital Theater] This year, fifty years since its incorporation as a borough, the third class city of Farrell will take stock of its assets in a Golden Jubilee Celebration. Anthony J. Monaco as chairman of the event is receiving the whole-hearted cooperation of over forty fraternal, civic and social organizations as well as Superintendent John Hetra and his school personnel, Fire Chief James Davis and his staff, the Volunteer Firemen and Police Chief John Sposito and the local police force.

Under the sponsorship of an active Chamber of Commerce and with the enthusiastic support of Mayor Michael Nevant and the present Council, the 14,000 citizens of this community will commemorate the pioneering spirit and the presistence of its settlers and its leaders.

Now, fifty years since its incorporation as a borough, the third class city of Farrell is taking stock of its assets in a Golden Jubilee celebration. Thirty-five committees, five hundred strong, have worked tirelessly with the Chamber of Commerce and the city administration to make this event one of the most memorable in Farrell's history.

True, this town's material assets are many — its miles of sidewalks and paved streets, its buildings and its homes, its business and its industries,its school system and its churches, and its utilities services and its sanitation system. Gone are the lamplighters, the street pumps, and the rope-and-plank bridge-walk that swayed with the wind or to step across a gaping “ hollow”. Electricity, pure and running water, and road bridges have taken their places. Much of the “hollow” itself, which threatened to sever the town during the early years of settlement, is now virtually nonexistent; for years of “filling” have brought the monster gorge to task. The little borough of South Sharon has been replaced by a city that boasts an acreage of 1,393.52. Citizens of the town today know a more stable economy than has usually been their lot. All these material signs of growth are notable and blessings undisguised, but not many of the 14,000 residents of this community will forget to salute the pioneering spirit and the persistance of its settlers and its leaders.

Memorial arches today stand like triumphant monitors at the gateways to this industrial center, bearing witness that native-born, foreign-born, white and colored, progeny of different races, different creeds and different customs have built an enduring city with great heart and a backbone of steel.

The above article appeared in the 1951 Farrell Golden Jubilee issue of Farrell High School's Reflector.
It written by Mrs. Elizabeth Heinze Broderick and Mrs. Betty Rose Broderick Gibbs


[Golden Jubilee Celebration 1901 - 1951.]

The tribute to Farrell shown below was published in the Farrell Golden Jubilee Souvenir Program

By Larry Flint

They say my town's a city built of many kinds and creeds,
With tinge of many nations’ blood and many brands and breeds,
But mine's a chosen city! Mine's a people born afar.
And, free to settle where they chose, they settled where they are.

There were a thousand cities, but they passed them all in line.
Is it to blame or praise that they chose to come to mine?

My town's a melting pot, they say, a many-peopled place.
But my town finds its glory in a mixed and mingled race.
My town's a town of souls select, unleashed from bonds of birth,
Who chose my town to live in for its welcome and its worth.
My town is cosmopolitan, a city built of those
Who live and love and laugh within its walls — because they chose.


A message from the Pedas Family
Any errors on these pages are unintentional. We welcome suggestions and contributions. Contact George Pedas. We are indebted to Ted Pedas for his generous funding of this project and to Kathy Pedas for her efforts in preparing the archival files. All rights reserved.   Contact Ted Pedas .