AmeriTrust Corporation

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Ameritrust Corporation began in 1894 when The Cleveland Trust Company was founded in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland Trust then assumed the contracts of the Security Safe Deposit and Trust Company, also located in Cleveland, Ohio. Beginning in 1903, Cleveland Trust acquired or merged with several other savings banks, including The Windemere Savings and Trust Company and The Western Reserve Trust Company. Cleveland Trust promoted innovative operating policies and procedures, including the establishment of an advertising department in 1913. It increased its number of branch offices through additional mergers, including Lake Shore Banking and Trust Company and The Garfield Savings Bank. Growth continued during the 1920s with the acquisition of the Pearl Street Savings and Trust Company. Two more banks were acquired in the 1930s; Midland Bank and South Euclid Bank. A new six story office building at East 9th Street and Huron Road was constructed in 1962. An adjacent office tower was completed in 1971. In 1974, CleveTrust Corporation, a bank holding company, was formed, with Cleveland Trust as the lead bank. Cleveland Trust was one of six local banks holding short-term notes of the City of Cleveland when financial difficulties in 1978 lead to the city's default on these loans. In 1979, The Cleveland Trust Company's name was changed to AmeriTrust Corporation. In 1986, the name was changed to Ameritrust Corporation. In 1991, Ameritrust merged with Society Corporation, and in 1992, went out of existence as a corporate entity.

From the description of Ameritrust Corporation records, 1871-1991 1893-1991. (Rhinelander District Library). WorldCat record id: 41541763

Ameritrust Corporation (1894-1992) began in September 1894 as The Cleveland Trust Company, which grew into one of the largest banking institutions in the country. By March of 1895, the first deposits had been received, the contracts of The Security Safe Deposit and Trust Company (1893-1894) had been absorbed, and John G. W. Cowles (1835-1914), who had managed John D. Rockefeller's real estate investments, was elected the first president of the new company. Headquartered on the ninth floor of the Garfield Building (at Euclid Avenue and Bond Street, later East 6th Street), the bank flourished, with deposits exceeding one million dollars in 1896. The first stock dividend was issued in 1897. At the turn of the century deposits totaled more than six million dollars. Under the direction of Cowles and, after 1903, his successor Calvary Morris (1851-1912), The Cleveland Trust Company continued to expand. Ground was broken in December 1905 at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Erie Street ( East 9th Street) for a new headquarters designed by New York architect George B. Post. The building was completed in 1908. Also during this period the bank began to merge with or acquire other savings banks, such as Windemere Savings and Trust Company (1901-1903), and Western Reserve Trust Company (1901-1903) enabling Cleveland Trust to establish its first branch offices, an innovation in American banking. Between 1904 and 1908, fourteen savings institutions in Cuyahoga, Lake and Lorain Counties became part of Cleveland Trust operations. Morris retired as president in 1908 and was appointed chairman of the board of directors. Frederick Harris Goff (1858-1923) became the bank's third president. During Goff's fifteen year tenure Cleveland Trust continued to grow. An expert in corporate law, Goff established new operating procedures that enhanced the bank's business image and financial position. The new policies included a continuous daily audit and a "No Loans to Bank Directors" order which became an integral part of the bank's advertising literature. An advertising department was established in 1913 to promote the bank's services. Goff was instrumental in the establishment of the Cleveland Foundation (f. 1914) which was to become a model for other philanthropic foundations in the United States. In April 1917 Cleveland Trust was admitted to the Federal Reserve System and officially became a bank of discount and deposit. Branch offices increased from fifteen to fifty-two, by the mergers of eight banking institutions with Cleveland Trust including Lake Shore Banking and Trust Company (1903-1922) and The Garfield Savings Bank (1892-1922). At the time of Goff's death in 1923, the fifty-two offices of Cleveland Trust had more than 397,000 depositors and assets of $176 million. Harris Creech (1874-1941), who had been an officer at The Garfield Savings Bank, became the bank's fourth president.

By the mid nineteen-twenties Cleveland Trust had become the sixth largest bank in the United States. Growth continued with the addition of new branches and the acquisition of Pearl Street Savings and Trust Company (1904-1929). On the eve of the Great Depression, the bank had grown to fifty-eight branches with $13.8 million in capital and a surplus exceeding $23 million. Following the Bank Holiday in 1933, Cleveland Trust, as a member of the Federal Reserve System, was the first bank in Cleveland to be audited and allowed to reopen. Harris Creech's policy of extending banking hours to allow depositors access to their funds forestalled a run on the bank. Two more banking institutions joined Cleveland Trust, Midland Bank (1921-1932) and South Euclid Bank (1925-1933). The bank continued to offer its customers innovative services, including a consumer credit department which made small loans that could be paid back in installments. Harris Creech served as president until his death in 1941. His successor was George Gund (1888-1966), who had joined the bank's board of directors in 1937. At the same time, Isadore F. Freiberger (1879-1969), an employee of long standing, became chairman of the board, a position not held since the death of Calvary Morris in 1912. Under Gund's leadership, Cleveland Trust prospered. In 1944, the bank celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with resources approaching $1 billion and a record 630,000 deposit accounts. Cleveland Trust continued to expand its branch system and by the early 1960s had become the largest banking operation between New York City and Los Angeles, California. Gund's close ties to Cleveland's corporate community served to increase and strengthen the bank's power, as did the bank's trust department which managed and voted corporate stock held in trust. In 1962 a new six story building was completed at East 9th Street and Huron Road which housed a computer center and other banking facilities. Gund retired as president in 1962 and assumed the board chairman's position. George Karch (1907-1982), who started his career with the bank as a tax clerk in 1926, became the sixth president of Cleveland Trust.

From 1966 to 1972 Cleveland Trust experienced many changes. In August 1968 ground breaking ceremonies were held for the first of two twenty-nine story office towers to be built adjacent to the main office. In 1969 the bank celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary with eighty branches, 700,000 deposit accounts, and more than $2.5 billion in assets. George Karch became chairman of the board and Everett Ware Smith (1913-1995) joined the staff of Cleveland Trust as its seventh president. The new office tower opened in 1971 and a $3 million restoration of the main office rotunda was begun. Electronic banking services, such as the Fast Cashier and BankAmericard programs, were introduced and aggressively promoted. In December 1972 George Karch retired as chief executive officer and chairman of the board and was replaced by Everett Ware Smith. M. Brock Weir (1922-1996) former president of Bank of California, joined Cleveland Trust as president and chief executive officer as Smith's replacement, bringing extensive experience in finance and banking.

The Federal Bank Holding Act of 1970 and changes in Ohio banking laws during the 1970s enabled Cleveland Trust to expand outside its traditional area of operations. Stockholders approved the organization of a holding company in 1973 and in June of 1974 CleveTrust was formed, with Cleveland Trust as the lead bank for the holding company. Between 1974 and 1976 more than a half-dozen banking institutions affiliated with CleveTrust Corporation, including City Bank of Kent (Ohio) and Peoples Bancshares of Canton, Ohio. The Federal Reserve approved the opening of a Columbus branch in April 1977. To meet the increasing competition for business, corporate support services were customized to meet commercial clients' needs, and electronic banking services were heavily marketed to retail customers.

Bank management policies, particularly the Trust Department's voting practices, led to legal problems in the 1970s with one of its major stock holders, Cyrus S. Eaton (1883-1879). Eaton questioned the legality of the Trust Department's voting bank stock and Trust Department held corporate stock and its manipulation of other companies by voting stock held in trust. Bank policy was eventually upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. The bank was then charged with antitrust violations because of its control of stock in four competing machine-tool companies. The suit was settled in 1975, but Karch later commented that it consumed an enormous amount of time, and that other banking endeavors suffered because of it.

The bank became involved in further controversy when in December 1978, $15.5 million in short-term notes owed by the City of Cleveland, $14 million of which were held by six local banks including Cleveland Trust, came due. Financial difficulties the previous year had already resulted in downgrading of the city's bond market ratings. Mayor Dennis Kucinich and his administration offered a repayment plan to the banks to ward off default on the loans and further damage to the city's credit. The plan was rejected and Cleveland Trust and its president, M. Brock Weir, became the focus of Kucinich's anger after the city went into default. Scrutiny of the bank's practices increased. Charges of redlining and failing to meet the credit needs of low and middle income borrowers continued to divert attention away from the bank's core business.

Jerry V. Jarrett (b.1933), who had joined The Cleveland Trust Company in 1974 after more than ten years with Marine Midland Bank of New York City, was named president of the bank in September 1978 and M. Brock Weir became chairman of the board. Corporate assets at the end of the year exceeded $5 billion. In November 1979, The Cleveland Trust Company's name was changed to AmeriTrust Corporation, to reflects its growing interests outside Cuyahoga County. From 1980 to 1982 the corporation continued to expand with the merger of affiliate banks in Portage, Medina, Lorain, Lake, Franklin, and Stark counties. Jerry V. Jarrett was named president and chief executive officer in October 1982 when M. Brock Weir announced his retirement plans. Jarrett succeeded Weir as chairman of the board and chief executive officer in 1983. James D. Rode (b.1947), who had joined the bank's management training program after college graduation in 1969, was named president to succeed Jarrett. During this period AmeriTrust exchanged its state banking charter for a national one which allowed expansion outside the state of Ohio. From 1984 through 1986 AmeriTrust acquired banking interests in Colorado and Indiana as well as ten banking offices from Hunter Savings Association in Columbus, Ohio. Additionally, corporate lending offices were opened in Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; and Tampa, Florida. AmeriTrust Company of New York opened in New York City in June 1985 to handle securities transfers and related services. A similar operation was opened in Denver, Colorado, in August 1985. At the end of 1985 corporate assets had reached $7.8 billion. In 1986 the capital "T" in AmeriTrust was changed to lower case; Ameritrust was now the official corporate name.

Despite its assets of more than $11 billion and its growth in the 1980s, Ameritrust began to lag behind its competition. Management decisions, including questionable domestic real estate loans, and unsecured loans to third world countries combined with general weakness in the banking industry because of the savings and loan industry collapse, to leave Ameritrust financially vulnerable.

With first quarter losses of $51.6 million in 1990, Jarrett stepped down as chairman and CEO in August 1990. He was replaced by Craig R. Smith (b.1925), former president and chief executive officer of the Warner and Swasey Company and an Ameritrust board director for more than ten years. In September 1990 an offer was tendered by National City Bank for Ameritrust's assets. The offer was refused. Ameritrust then announced that it would talk with potential bidders after the National City Bank offer was made public. In September 1991 Ameritrust merged with Society Corporation, with Society paying out $1.2 billion in a tax-free exchange of stock, creating the second largest banking system in Ohio. Despite Federal Reserve Bank approval in February 1992, the merger was not completed until March because of United States Department of Justice concerns that the merger would threaten competition in the Cleveland banking community. Thirty Cleveland area branch offices with more than $700 million in deposits were sold by Society Corporation to Star Banc Corporation of Cincinnati, Ohio, to satisfy Department of Justice concerns. On Monday, March 16, 1992, Ameritrust Corporation, successor to The Cleveland Trust Company, went out of existence.

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Ameritrust

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Frederick Goff

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for George Gund

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for the Cleveland Foundation

From the guide to the Ameritrust Corporation Records, 1871-1991, (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Ameritrust Corporation (1894-1992) began in September 1894 as The Cleveland Trust Company, which grew into one of the largest banking institutions in the country. By March of 1895, the first deposits had been received, the contracts of The Security Safe Deposit and Trust Company (1893-1894) had been absorbed, and John G. W. Cowles (1835-1914), who had managed John D. Rockefeller's real estate investments, was elected the first president of the new company. Headquartered on the ninth floor of the Garfield Building (at Euclid Avenue and Bond Street, later East 6th Street), the bank flourished, with deposits exceeding one million dollars in 1896. The first stock dividend was issued in 1897. At the turn of the century deposits totaled more than six million dollars. Under the direction of Cowles and, after 1903, his successor Calvary Morris (1851-1912), The Cleveland Trust Company continued to expand. Ground was broken in December 1905 at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Erie Street ( East 9th Street) for a new headquarters designed by New York architect George B. Post. The building was completed in 1908. Also during this period the bank began to merge with or acquire other savings banks, such as Windemere Savings and Trust Company (1901-1903), and Western Reserve Trust Company (1901-1903) enabling Cleveland Trust to establish its first branch offices, an innovation in American banking. Between 1904 and 1908, fourteen savings institutions in Cuyahoga, Lake and Lorain Counties became part of Cleveland Trust operations. Morris retired as president in 1908 and was appointed chairman of the board of directors. Frederick Harris Goff (1858-1923) became the bank's third president. During Goff's fifteen year tenure Cleveland Trust continued to grow. An expert in corporate law, Goff established new operating procedures that enhanced the bank's business image and financial position. The new policies included a continuous daily audit and a "No Loans to Bank Directors" order which became an integral part of the bank's advertising literature. An advertising department was established in 1913 to promote the bank's services. Goff was instrumental in the establishment of the Cleveland Foundation (f. 1914) which was to become a model for other philanthropic foundations in the United States. In April 1917 Cleveland Trust was admitted to the Federal Reserve System and officially became a bank of discount and deposit. Branch offices increased from fifteen to fifty-two, by the mergers of eight banking institutions with Cleveland Trust including Lake Shore Banking and Trust Company (1903-1922) and The Garfield Savings Bank (1892-1922). At the time of Goff's death in 1923, the fifty-two offices of Cleveland Trust had more than 397,000 depositors and assets of $176 million. Harris Creech (1874-1941), who had been an officer at The Garfield Savings Bank, became the bank's fourth president.

By the mid nineteen-twenties Cleveland Trust had become the sixth largest bank in the United States. Growth continued with the addition of new branches and the acquisition of Pearl Street Savings and Trust Company (1904-1929). On the eve of the Great Depression, the bank had grown to fifty-eight branches with $13.8 million in capital and a surplus exceeding $23 million. Following the Bank Holiday in 1933, Cleveland Trust, as a member of the Federal Reserve System, was the first bank in Cleveland to be audited and allowed to reopen. Harris Creech's policy of extending banking hours to allow depositors access to their funds forestalled a run on the bank. Two more banking institutions joined Cleveland Trust, Midland Bank (1921-1932) and South Euclid Bank (1925-1933). The bank continued to offer its customers innovative services, including a consumer credit department which made small loans that could be paid back in installments. Harris Creech served as president until his death in 1941. His successor was George Gund (1888-1966), who had joined the bank's board of directors in 1937. At the same time, Isadore F. Freiberger (1879-1969), an employee of long standing, became chairman of the board, a position not held since the death of Calvary Morris in 1912. Under Gund's leadership, Cleveland Trust prospered. In 1944, the bank celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with resources approaching $1 billion and a record 630,000 deposit accounts. Cleveland Trust continued to expand its branch system and by the early 1960s had become the largest banking operation between New York City and Los Angeles, California. Gund's close ties to Cleveland's corporate community served to increase and strengthen the bank's power, as did the bank's trust department which managed and voted corporate stock held in trust. In 1962 a new six story building was completed at East 9th Street and Huron Road which housed a computer center and other banking facilities. Gund retired as president in 1962 and assumed the board chairman's position. George Karch (1907-1982), who started his career with the bank as a tax clerk in 1926, became the sixth president of Cleveland Trust.

From 1966 to 1972 Cleveland Trust experienced many changes. In August 1968 ground breaking ceremonies were held for the first of two twenty-nine story office towers to be built adjacent to the main office. In 1969 the bank celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary with eighty branches, 700,000 deposit accounts, and more than $2.5 billion in assets. George Karch became chairman of the board and Everett Ware Smith (1913-1995) joined the staff of Cleveland Trust as its seventh president. The new office tower opened in 1971 and a $3 million restoration of the main office rotunda was begun. Electronic banking services, such as the Fast Cashier and BankAmericard programs, were introduced and aggressively promoted. In December 1972 George Karch retired as chief executive officer and chairman of the board and was replaced by Everett Ware Smith. M. Brock Weir (1922-1996) former president of Bank of California, joined Cleveland Trust as president and chief executive officer as Smith's replacement, bringing extensive experience in finance and banking.

The Federal Bank Holding Act of 1970 and changes in Ohio banking laws during the 1970s enabled Cleveland Trust to expand outside its traditional area of operations. Stockholders approved the organization of a holding company in 1973 and in June of 1974 CleveTrust was formed, with Cleveland Trust as the lead bank for the holding company. Between 1974 and 1976 more than a half-dozen banking institutions affiliated with CleveTrust Corporation, including City Bank of Kent (Ohio) and Peoples Bancshares of Canton, Ohio. The Federal Reserve approved the opening of a Columbus branch in April 1977. To meet the increasing competition for business, corporate support services were customized to meet commercial clients' needs, and electronic banking services were heavily marketed to retail customers.

Bank management policies, particularly the Trust Department's voting practices, led to legal problems in the 1970s with one of its major stock holders, Cyrus S. Eaton (1883-1879). Eaton questioned the legality of the Trust Department's voting bank stock and Trust Department held corporate stock and its manipulation of other companies by voting stock held in trust. Bank policy was eventually upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. The bank was then charged with antitrust violations because of its control of stock in four competing machine-tool companies. The suit was settled in 1975, but Karch later commented that it consumed an enormous amount of time, and that other banking endeavors suffered because of it.

The bank became involved in further controversy when in December 1978, $15.5 million in short-term notes owed by the City of Cleveland, $14 million of which were held by six local banks including Cleveland Trust, came due. Financial difficulties the previous year had already resulted in downgrading of the city's bond market ratings. Mayor Dennis Kucinich and his administration offered a repayment plan to the banks to ward off default on the loans and further damage to the city's credit. The plan was rejected and Cleveland Trust and its president, M. Brock Weir, became the focus of Kucinich's anger after the city went into default. Scrutiny of the bank's practices increased. Charges of redlining and failing to meet the credit needs of low and middle income borrowers continued to divert attention away from the bank's core business.

Jerry V. Jarrett (b.1933), who had joined The Cleveland Trust Company in 1974 after more than ten years with Marine Midland Bank of New York City, was named president of the bank in September 1978 and M. Brock Weir became chairman of the board. Corporate assets at the end of the year exceeded $5 billion. In November 1979, The Cleveland Trust Company's name was changed to AmeriTrust Corporation, to reflects its growing interests outside Cuyahoga County. From 1980 to 1982 the corporation continued to expand with the merger of affiliate banks in Portage, Medina, Lorain, Lake, Franklin, and Stark counties. Jerry V. Jarrett was named president and chief executive officer in October 1982 when M. Brock Weir announced his retirement plans. Jarrett succeeded Weir as chairman of the board and chief executive officer in 1983. James D. Rode (b.1947), who had joined the bank's management training program after college graduation in 1969, was named president to succeed Jarrett. During this period AmeriTrust exchanged its state banking charter for a national one which allowed expansion outside the state of Ohio. From 1984 through 1986 AmeriTrust acquired banking interests in Colorado and Indiana as well as ten banking offices from Hunter Savings Association in Columbus, Ohio. Additionally, corporate lending offices were opened in Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; and Tampa, Florida. AmeriTrust Company of New York opened in New York City in June 1985 to handle securities transfers and related services. A similar operation was opened in Denver, Colorado, in August 1985. At the end of 1985 corporate assets had reached $7.8 billion. In 1986 the capital "T" in AmeriTrust was changed to lower case; Ameritrust was now the official corporate name.

Despite its assets of more than $11 billion and its growth in the 1980s, Ameritrust began to lag behind its competition. Management decisions, including questionable domestic real estate loans, and unsecured loans to third world countries combined with general weakness in the banking industry because of the savings and loan industry collapse, to leave Ameritrust financially vulnerable.

With first quarter losses of $51.6 million in 1990, Jarrett stepped down as chairman and CEO in August 1990. He was replaced by Craig R. Smith (b.1925), former president and chief executive officer of the Warner and Swasey Company and an Ameritrust board director for more than ten years. In September 1990 an offer was tendered by National City Bank for Ameritrust's assets. The offer was refused. Ameritrust then announced that it would talk with potential bidders after the National City Bank offer was made public. In September 1991 Ameritrust merged with Society Corporation, with Society paying out $1.2 billion in a tax-free exchange of stock, creating the second largest banking system in Ohio. Despite Federal Reserve Bank approval in February 1992, the merger was not completed until March because of United States Department of Justice concerns that the merger would threaten competition in the Cleveland banking community. Thirty Cleveland area branch offices with more than $700 million in deposits were sold by Society Corporation to Star Banc Corporation of Cincinnati, Ohio, to satisfy Department of Justice concerns. On Monday, March 16, 1992, Ameritrust Corporation, successor to The Cleveland Trust Company, went out of existence.

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Ameritrust Corporation

From the guide to the Ameritrust Corporation Photographs, 1890-1990, (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Ameritrust Corporation Photographs, 1890-1990 Western Reserve Historical Society
creatorOf Ameritrust Corporation Records, 1871-1991 Western Reserve Historical Society
creatorOf AmeriTrust Corporation. Ameritrust Corporation records, 1871-1991 1893-1991. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ayers, Leonard P. person
associatedWith Cleveland Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Cleveland Trust Company. corporateBody
associatedWith CleveTrust Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Detroit Street Savings and Loan Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Garfield Savings Bank. corporateBody
associatedWith Goff, Frederick H. 1858-1923. person
associatedWith Gund, George, 1888-1966. person
associatedWith Lake Shore Banking and Trust Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Pearl Street Savings and Trust Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Security Safe Deposit and Trust Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Society Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith South Euclid Bank Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Weir, M. Brock, 1922-1996. person
associatedWith Western Reserve Trust Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Windemere Savings and Trust Company. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Ohio--Cleveland
Ohio
Cleveland (Ohio)
Subject
Savings banks
Banks and banking--Ohio--Cleveland
Bank marketing--Ohio--Cleveland
Savings banks--Ohio--Cleveland--Photographs
Advertising--Banks and banking--Photographs
Ameritrust Corporation--Photograph collections
Bank holding companies--Ohio--Photographs
Bank employees--Ohio--Cleveland--Photographs
Banks and banking--Ohio--Cleveland--Photographs
Bank marketing--Ohio--Cleveland--Photographs
Branch banks--Ohio--Cleveland--Photographs
Advertising--Banks and banking
Cleveland (Ohio)--Politics and government
Banks and banking
Default (Finance)
Bank buildings
Bank holding companies
Bank mergers--Ohio--Cleveland--Photographs
Bank mergers
Banks and banking--Public relations
Bourke--White, Margaret, 1904-1971--Photograph collections
Branch banks--Ohio--Cleveland
Bank holding companies--Ohio
Savings banks--Ohio--Cleveland
Bank buildings--Ohio--Cleveland
Bank loans--Ohio--Cleveland
Cleveland Trust Company--Photograph collections
Bank loans
Bank marketing
Bank buildings--Ohio--Cleveland--Photographs
Ameritrust Corporation
Cleveland Trust Company
Default (Finance)--Ohio--Cleveland
Banks and banking--Public relations--Photographs
Branch banks
Bank mergers--Ohio--Cleveland
Occupation
Activity

Corporate Body

Active 1871

Active 1991

Information

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