Berea, Ohio, was established in 1836. Henry O. Sheldon, a circuit rider, selected Berea and Tabor as possible names for the community. The townspeople decided to simply flip a coin, and Berea won, thus becoming the town's name.
Berea grew quickly. In 1880, 1,682 people resided in the community. Shortly after the town's founding, Josiah Holbrook established a globe factory, where he manufactured globes and other classroom supplies. The factory closed by 1852. Many residents also worked in sandstone quarries along the Rocky River. John Baldwin, one of the founders of Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, began excavating sandstone in the 1840s. Baldwin and other quarry owners used the sandstone for grindstones, which people used to sharpen tools, and for building material. By the 1880s, the Cleveland Stone Company was the sole excavator of Berea sandstone. It also had sandstone quarries in North Amherst, Columbia, West View, La Grange, and Olmstead. All of these communities were located in Ohio. Stone quarried in Berea was used in numerous important buildings across the United States and Canada, including the Garfield Memorial in Cleveland, the Palmer House, a hotel in Chicago, Illinois, and the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Canada. Eventually, Berea became known as the "Grindstone Capital of the World."
By the early 1940s, the sandstone industry began to decline, as businesses discovered a new material to fashion grindstones and concrete usage increased in building construction. Berea residents had to find new employment. Located twelve miles from Cleveland, most residents found employment in this larger city, as they still do today. In 2000, Berea boasted a population of 18,970 people.