Filed Under Biography

Zitiello Bank

The Zitiello Bank, located at 6810 Herman Avenue, was the earliest known ethnic bank opened in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.

The bank was founded by Joseph Zitiello, an immigrant from the Campania region of Italy who came to Cleveland in 1898. Joseph was just one of several members of the Zitiello family who by 1910 had purchased homes on West 69th Street. As was customary with Italian immigrants, a number of the Zitiellos were proprietors of small businesses that were operated out of their homes. Joseph ran a butcher shop. Luigi was a saloon keeper. Pasquale was the neighborhood grocer.

By 1910, Joseph Zitiello had achieved financial success as a butcher and began to engage in private banking. In 1916, he built the Zitiello Bank building on the corner of West 69th and Herman Avenue. In 1920, Zitiello, who by this time was known as the "King of the Italian Colony" on the west side of Cleveland, incorporated the Zitiello Bank. Later, the Zitiello Bank opened a branch office on Fulton Road. In 1929, while at this branch office, Joseph Zitiello was shot by several assailants who were attempting to rob the bank. Zitiello returned their fire, chasing the would-be robbers from his bank.

The Zitiello Bank, like many small banks, was forced to close during the Great Depression. Even so, the Zitiello family remained in the neighborhood, contributing both to the community and to their new country. In 1967, Ronald J. Zitiello, an American soldier and grandchild of one of the original Zitiello immigrants from Italy, was killed in the Vietnam War. A memorial garden dedicated to his memory is located in the neighborhood.

More than one hundred years have passed since the first Zitiello immigrants from the Campania region of Italy came to Cleveland and settled on West 69th Street. Today, a number of descendants of those original immigrants still live on West 69th Street, helping to anchor the ongoing revitalization of this old Cleveland neighborhood.

Images

The Zitiello Bank Building Built in 1915 on the northeast corner of Herman Avenue and West 69th Street, the Zitiello Bank building originally had bank offices on its first floor. The second floor of the building served as the Joseph Zitiello family's residence. Today, the building is exclusively used as a residence. Creator: Jim Dubelko
The Neighborhood Entrepreneurs This partial page from the 1911 Cleveland city directory reveals that three of the four Zitiello immigrants living on West 69th Street were engaged as proprietors of neighborhood businesses. Source: Cleveland Public Library
Joseph Zitiello, founder of Zitiello Bank This photograph of 64-year old Joseph Zitiello was taken in 1933, shortly after his bank failed. Zitiello, an Italian immigrant, came to the United States in 1898, and by 1910 he had accumulated enough capital to become a private banker in what is today the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Zitiello Bank Report Joseph Zitiello incorporated his neighborhood bank in 1920. In 1923, he filed this report with the State of Ohio, which provides an interesting glimpse into the assets and liabilities of a neighborhood bank of that era. Source: Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Banking in Tougher Times On June 1,1929, bank president Joseph Zitiello was shot by robbers while he was at the Zitiello Bank's Fulton Road branch office. Though shot in the mouth and nose, he managed to return fire and chase the robbers out of his bank. He eventually recovered from his life-threatening injuries. Source: Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Dying for his Country. Ronald J. Zitiello, a grandchild of Italian immigrants from the Campania region of Italy, was killed by enemy gunfire in 1966. He was serving in the United States Army in Vietnam. Ronald grew up on West 69th Street in Cleveland. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
A Neighborhood Memorial This garden on West 67th Street in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood om the west side of Cleveland is a memorial to Ronald J. Zitiello. Ronald, a grandson of Italian immigrants, died during the Vietnam War. Creator: Jim Dubelko

Location

6810 Herman Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102

Metadata

Jim Dubelko, “Zitiello Bank,” Cleveland Historical, accessed December 4, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/450.