City Directories and History: The Bank of Sharon opened its doors in 1909 at the intersection of Lockhart Road, Sharon Road and Woodlawn Avenue. This was one of
the first brick buildings in the town and is the oldest continuously operating bank in York County. Dr. J. H. Saye organized the bank and served as its first president. In 1986, the Bank of Sharon was merged with First Citizens Bank. The brick-veneered, wood frame structure has an arcaded entrance and fixed paired windows with a multi-block transom. The building also features brick cornice relief and raised brick dentils. [Historical Properties of York County, SC – 1995]
The Rock Hill Record reported on May 13, 1909 – “A M. Haddon and H.M. Dunlap, Esq. meet Tuesday in Sharon where they will organize a bank which hopes to be open by Aug. 1st. It will be known as the First National Bank of Sharon. Plans for a building have been submitted by architect M.G. Walker of Rock Hill. Dr. J.H. Saye is Chairman and Directors will include: Kelley Inman, J.E. Plaxico, W.C. Thompson, W.B. Good, H.W. Shannon, C.L. Kennedy, J.S. Hartness and W.M. Faulkner.”
The RH Record reported on May 29, 1909 – “Directors of the new First National Bank of Sharon have purchased the site on the corner of Shelby and York Streets. Plans submitted by M.G. Walker of Rock Hill were selected for a brick building. The National Showcase Company of Columbus George has the the contract for interior fixtures. The safe will be from Victor Safe and Lock Co., of Ohio.”
The RH Record reported on July 1, 1909 – “The old Burgess Store, which has long been an eye sore to the public, has been removed. The old site is to be used for the bank.”
The RH Record reported on July 8, 1909 – “A lot for the bank has been surveyed and ground will be broken today. Mr. Blair is the contractor. It also recorded that R.H.G. Caldwell will build a brick store next to the bank building.”
In 1911 Dr. Saye began looking for a man to replace A. M. Haddon of Rock Hill at the Sharon First National Bank that he had help to open in 1909. He turned to John Hartness who had been a Southern Rail Road agent, Western Union operator, and a Southern Express agent. Though Hartness had no formal education Saye believed he had “a lot of common horse sense.” Hartness accepted the position as Cashier (manager) and remained with the bank for the next forty years. In 1934 the American Banker ran an article on Harts entitled “Country Institution on Banking & Business School” mentioning that Hartness saying he had trained nineteen men and women in banking and business techniques. Some mentioned holding positions in banking and mercantile were Carl Plexico, Sarah Love, Samuel B. Pratt, Jr., John Wylie, Hannah Stephenson, Roy Byers, Augustus Cain, Edgar Ferguson, Joe Scott Hope and W. T. Sims. [Contribution by J.L. West]
The Sharon Downtown Historic District is a significant collection of commercial and industrial buildings which illustrate the development of the commercial core of the small community of Sharon since its beginnings in the late 1880s. The nine buildings contributing to the character of this historic district provide evidence of the establishment and growth of a small downtown through the various periods of the town’s development from 1888 through 1945. The district consists primarily of masonry commercial buildings built between 1908 and 1944 which historically housed a variety of businesses serving the developing town of Sharon in the first half of the twentieth century. The properties in the district, taken as a whole, possess architectural integrity and provide an important record of the development of commerce and industry in the community. Many of the district’s buildings are excellent examples of commercial buildings typical of small towns in the Piedmont of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Listed in the National Register November 2, 2001. [Courtesy of the S.C. Dept. of Archives and History]
It has been often reported that the Bank of Sharon is one of only a hand full of banks in South Carolina that did not close during the Great Depression of 1929.
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