Nostalgia is something of an industry in Sharpsburg. The birthplace of such household names as H. J. Heinz Co. and Fort Pitt Beer, the town is full of reminders of the peak of Western Pennsylvania’s immigration and industrial prowess.
Today, the area’s reasonable rents, historic buildings and public amenities make it an inviting location for seniors, young families, and small businesses. Artisans and small-scale producers have found a home here, including the pottery artists behind STAK Ceramics and RedRaven Studios and sensitive skin-care company Simple Sugars, an alum of ABC’s Shark Tank.
The quaint, tree-lined Main Street is home to a thriving resale hub, with Cash 4 Collectibles, a St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store and D&E Collectibles offering vintage finds of toys, clothing and bric-a-brac. Dining options include Café on Main, a Sunday brunch destination; Club Sandwich & Strictly Business Catering for breakfast and lunch; and The Gran Canal Caffé for traditional Italian dishes. Silky’s Crow’s Nest Restaurant and Marina offers pub fare and a waterfront view.
Sharpsburg’s largely flat land makes for easy walking and cycling. Public amenities include Kennedy Park, site of the annual Guyasuta Days festival every August; Heinz Playground, a spray park in the warmer months; and the James Sharp Boat Landing. The Sharpsburg Community Library, now undergoing a complete renovation designed by Arthur Lubetz, is slated to re-open in 2015. Camp Guyasuta offers a wooded retreat for scouting programs and members of the general public alike, with a swimming pool and seasonal activities. A riverfront connection to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail is under consideration.
The borough was founded in 1826 by James Sharp and became a prime location for light industry due to its proximity to downtown Pittsburgh, access to the Allegheny River, and a canal that bisected the town. Today, North and South Canal Streets take the place of the waterway, built in 1829, that was later filled in and laid with tracks by the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Visitors to the center of town will see a large statue of Chief Guyasuta, a native American of the Seneca tribe, who in the 18th century brokered the sale of a tract of land that later became Sharpsburg, Aspinwall and part of O’Hara Township to his friend, James O’Hara. The statue stands in front of a set of bronze relief panels depicting the life of H.J. Heinz.
The Heinz Company was founded in a small two-story house in the borough in 1869. There, Heinz grew much of the fresh produce for the company in a large farm that stretched from the Allegheny River to Main Street. In 1905, “The House Where We Began” was moved downriver where it occupied the courtyard of the company’s plant on the North Side. Heinz Terrace, site of many of Sharpsburg’s stately homes, is a reminder of its most famous occupant.