By 1812Blockhouse

It is very possible that in 2022, the majority of our readers will not immediately recognize the building built by the former Citizens Bank in Shelby, a pacesetting financial institution in its day.

On the other hand, if the name “The Vault” is mentioned instead, many will immediately realize that they not only know where today’s Landmark of Richland is, but that they have actually been inside to consume or beverage.

When the Board of Citizens Bank decided in 1910 to construct a permanent home for their almost 20-year-old institution, they chose a high profile location for that structure – the northwest corner of Main and Washington Streets in the heart of downtown Shelby.

The Board itself prided itself on being different from the competitors, primarily in the way that their members were chosen. Citizens prioritized community engagement and gave Board seats to individuals involved in civic affairs that could form and capitalize on positive relationships with the business community.

The Citizens Board chose Mansfield architect Vernon Redding to design the new bank. The most prolific professional in the field at that time across this part of Ohio, Redding had already designed bank buildings in Norwalk, Newark, and Wooster; was to design a remarkably similar building in Galion; and had already designed Mansfield’s newest Carneige Library. 

Redding’s design work began in March of 1910, and after a year of construction, the building opened to the public on October 14, 1911.

The two story bank was an impressive one for that size of community, and that was no accident. The Daily Globe expressed this opinion about the finished product:

“It signifies a new order of things for this community. It signifies a greater desire on the part of our people to excel in those graces which tend to uplift, to beautify, and by example to show what may be done to create a new spirit and implant new ideas.”

The 28 ½ by 90 foot bank was built entirely of Bedford, Indiana limestone. In the interior, described a “…as chaste as a maiden’s kiss” by the The Daily Globe, the wainscotting featured Italian and English veined marble.

Mahogany wood could be seen throughout the main banking hall and adjoining rooms. Those include a novelty at the time – men’s and women’s public restrooms, the latter including a telephone and a stationary station.  All furniture and fixtures were obtained from The Art Metal Construction Company of Jamestown, New York. The contractor was Sandusky’s George Feick.

Those rooms included a Director’s Room above the main entrance with windows onto Main Street. To this day, that room presents a dignified, period appearance.

Citizens Bank was begun in 1893. When the new bank was built, it held capital stock of $100,000. In 1979, Citizens merged with BancOhio and like other small-town financial institutions in Ohio, it would eventually close is former downtown location.

The Value wine bar opened in the space in May. 2014 under owners Ben and Cindy Lash.

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