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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

GUARDIAN SAVINGS AND TRUST CO.

GUARDIAN SAVINGS AND TRUST CO.

The GUARDIAN SAVINGS AND TRUST CO., one of Cleveland's principal banks in the early 20th century, opened 10 Dec. 1894 at W. 9th and Superior with capital of $500,000 and 4 employees. In 1898 Henry P. McIntosh became president. An "uptown" office in the ARCADE was added in 1902 and 4 years later the growing bank erected a 12-story building at 322 Euclid Ave. Still expanding, the bank purchased the New England Bldg. at 619 Euclid Ave. in 1914, which it enlarged and renamed the Guardian Bldg. Under Pres. J. Arthur House, the Guardian acquired several local banks between 1919-21, including the historic Natl. Commercial Bank. Originally known as the Commercial Branch Bank, it had been organized in Sept. 1845 as a branch of the State Bank, and was reorganized as the Commercial Natl. Bank when its charter expired in 1865. It became the Natl. Commercial Bank in 1905.

In the 1920s, Guardian established 19 branch offices and by the late 1920s it had 725 employees with over $140 million in deposits and $16 million in capital. The bank was also a web of 26 companies, including investment and real estate firms, and a number of questionable insider loans were made to its bank officers and directors. After the March 1933 bank holiday, the Guardian was ordered to liquidate and state authorities uncovered many of the illegal dealings. In 1934-35, Pres. House was convicted of misapplying bank funds and falsifying bank records; he served 2 years in prison. The final dividend was paid to depositors and creditors in 1950, and the Guardian's affairs were closed 19 Feb. 1952.