History of the West
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
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Local Man Unearths Rare Piece
of West Park History
On March 2nd, 2012, local resident Jesse Rodgers, age 29, was using a metal detector on the cliff overlooking Rocky River Valley near Larchwood Avenue. He'd already discovered a rare nickle from the 1860s when the beeping detector indicated another metal object hidden 3 to 4 inches under the soil. Jesse then made a startling find: a half-dollar sized promotional token issued by the West Park Savings & Banking Company over 90 years ago.
West Park Savings & Banking opened on November 22, 1915, at Rocky River Drive and Lorain Avenue, only ½ mile from where Jesse found the token. Among its officers were the most prominent businessmen in West Park including Frederick A. Colbrunn, Henry Barthelman, and John G. Seager. By 1920, West Park Savings held deposits of $688,305 and assets of $764,000. In June 1920, the institution was sold and became the 24th branch of the Cleveland Trust Company
The site where Jesse unearthed the token is on the former estate of wealthy West Park contractor Neal Norton. One of Norton's 14 children may have lost the token while playing on the hillside. Surprisingly, we already have an identical token in our collection. We bought it on eBay several years ago from a seller in a distant state. We never expected to see another one!
"I didn't know this was such a great find until talking with you," Jesse told us. "Now I'm thrilled. I love history and to find something like this is great! I hope my discovery inspires others to get out and explore local history.
Jesse Rodgers, with metal detector, and the rare
West Park Savings token he found on the Hillside
above Rocky River Valley. Photograph March 2012.
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Updated 18 July 2014