The OES visited Ohio National Bank on September 14, 2010. Ohio National Bank of Columbus was incorporated on May 2, 1888 as the Ohio Savings Bank of Columbus with an authorized capital stock of $75,000. Nine years later in June 1897, the bank became the Ohio National Bank of Columbus with an authorized capital stock of $400,000. The bank soon outgrew their building at the southeast corner of Main and High Streets and a new facility was built at the southeast corner of Town and High Streets in 1911. Built in the classic revival style, the new building featured a granite foundation, limestone walls and bronze fittings. It was described in Ohio Education Monthly as a model of architecture with its beauty of construction, perfection of arrangement, and completeness of equipment.
Being a federally chartered bank, the Ohio National Bank of Columbus began issuing its own national currency. This process continued until 1935 when the printing of national currency was transferred to the Federal Reserve. The bank notes were required to be signed by the bank's president and cashier to give them a local seal of approval, and were backed dollar for dollar by government bonds. Many of these bills are rare today and treasured by collectors.
Ohio's first bank holding company, BancOhio Corporation, was formed in 1929 and acquired the Ohio National Bank of Columbus. Operations continued as BancOhio's Ohio National Bank and several branches opened in other parts of the city. In 1964, the bank developed an electronic data processing system, although we have not uncovered if the system was ever implemented. Cleveland's National City Corporation acquired BancOhio in 1984, creating the state's largest bank holding company with their total assets at $12.5 billion. All of their banks were renamed to the National City brand in 1992 to reflect their common ownership. National City bank continued operations at the Ohio National Bank building until 1999, when the branch was closed.
A property group bought the building in 1998 and still owned the building at the time of our visit. The breathtaking lobby of the bank was in remarkable condition, looking like the bank had just closed days before. A large vault was located on the opposite end of the lobby from the front doors. The quality of craftsmanship put into the building was remarkable. You could tell that banks were built to impress. The basement area and most of the office areas were still in good condition, but the ceiling of the top floor storage area showed signs of water damage. Just standing in the bank and thinking of all of the lives and money that passed through the doors over the past 100 years was overwhelming. Whenever it is decided what will become of the Ohio National Bank, we hope its important history is preserved for future generations.