Filed Under Economy

Phoenix Bank

An orphan, Harrison Grey Blake -- better known as H.G. Blake around the Medina community -- founded the old Phoenix Bank in Medina, Ohio in 1845. Blake initially bought a general store and added an iron cage, or safe, to the back room, thus creating a bank. The three story building had other businesses on the first floor, while the second floor was used for office space, and the third floor housed a social club and a 500-seat theater.

Unfortunately, the second fire on the Medina Square in 1870 destroyed the bank. The safe, however, survived. After this calamity, Blake rallied the citizens of Medina to begin rebuilding the structures damaged or destroyed by the fire. He put forth his bank as the first business to lead this movement, hence the name the Old Phoenix Bank, deriving from the mythical phoenix known for rising from the ashes. From this pivotal moment in Medina history the bank continued to grow and open other branches.

In 1981 Phoenix Bank merged with First National Bank of Ohio. Then, in 1995 the bank changed its name to its current title of First Merit Corporation. First Merit Bank now has 169 branches and 224 ATM machines serving mainly Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. It continues to maintain a branch on Medina Square at the site of the first Phoenix Bank.


Phoenix Bank, 1840-1870
Phoenix Bank, 1840-1870 Imagine the various possibilities for commerce that could occupy a space 75 by 88 feet in the mid-1800s. The signs in this undated photograph indicate the types of businesses which were located in the original Phoenix Bank building on Medina Square. The building burned down in 1870. One person alive in those days described the building by stating, "Phoenix of brick, three stories high, with a basement under the entire building. The first story is divided into stores, one room of which is occupied by the Phoenix Bank. The second story is mostly offices, while the third story is divided into two large halls, one of them, and an elegant one it is, is used by the Odd Fellows; the other Phoenix Hall, 44 by 88 feet, is a fine theater, well furnished with stage, scenery, etc., and will comfortably seat five hundred persons." Clearly, a lot took place within the walls of this rather ordinary looking building. Source: Medina County Historical Society
Phoenix Bank, ca. 1870s
Phoenix Bank, ca. 1870s H.G. Blake constructed a new Phoenix Bank building on Medina Square after the original one burned down in 1870. An iron cage located in the back of the building constituted the entire bank at this time. Look at the signs on the building -- What other types of business were conducted here? Source: Medina County Historical Society Date: ca. 1870s
Collage, 1871-1971
Collage, 1871-1971 In 1971, the Old Phoenix National Bank produced this collage representing the 100 year history of the Phoenix Bank building. Source: Medina County Historical Society Date: 1971
Phoenix Bank, ca. 1960s
Phoenix Bank, ca. 1960s If you look east down E. Washington Street today, you will notice the absence of the overhead signs, wires, and various neon advertisements that cluttered the square in the 1960s. In this image from that era, the bank looks quite different than it does today. Around this time, the Medina Community Design Committee spearheaded the effort to "clean-up" the square. Source: Medina County Historical Society Date: ca. 1960s
Phoenix Bank, 2010
Phoenix Bank, 2010 The name of the bank may have changed, but the inscription on the upper facade of the building still reads "Phoenix Bank 1870 -- H.G. Blake" Date: 2010


35 Public Square, Medina, OH 44256


Shannon Conley, “Phoenix Bank,” Cleveland Historical, accessed April 16, 2024,