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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

WOMEN'S FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK

WOMEN'S FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK

The WOMEN'S FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK of Cleveland was the first savings and loan association in the nation founded and operated by women. The Women's Savings & Loan Co., founded by CLARA E. WESTROPP and LILLIAN M. WESTROPP and a group of business and professional women, opened in Feb. 1922 with $89,000 in capital. Located in the Ulmer Bldg., Women's Savings grew steadily in the 1920s, outgrowing its original offices in the Ulmer Bldg. and moved to larger quarters in the Women's City Club building. Although it lost half its capital between 1932-34, it acquired a federal charter in May 1935 and reorganized as Women's Federal Savings & Loan with offices in the Colonial Arcade. Growth forced its move to 320 Superior Ave. in 1938--a building it purchased in 1944. By 1950 it was the 2nd-largest savings and loan in Cuyahoga County, with assets of more than $20 million. President Lillian Westropp retired in 1957 after serving as an officer for many years and was replaced by her sister, Clara, who oversaw the opening of a new headquarters building adjacent to the old site. The firm remained there from 1963 until July 1982, when the building was sold to Standard Oil Co. (see BP AMERICA) and razed. Women's Federal then relocated to the Higbee Bldg. at 120 PUBLIC SQUARE. Following Clara's death in 1965, Thos. C. Westropp became president until 1981, when Lawrence F. Guzowski took over. After losses in 1981 and 1982, Women's Federal converted from a mutual savings and loan to an investor-owned savings bank in June 1983 and acquired $38 million in new capital, returning it to profitability. In 1983 the renamed Women's Federal Savings Bank had more than $576 million in assets. Women's Federal was considered a well-run bank in 1992 when its shareholders agreed to merge with CHARTER ONE FINANCIAL INC., a merger that was completed in 1993.