Side A: John Young included a public square in his town plan of 1798. A one-room log schoolhouse opened in 1803. In the decades that followed, the Market and Federal Street intersection became the social center of Youngstown with wood-frame houses, churches, and an opera house surrounding the square. Horse-drawn streetcars, running from Brier Hill through the square, became the first form of public transportation in 1875. From 1869 to 1969 the nationally known Tod Hotel dominated the southeast corner of the square. Guests included seven U.S. presidents. Federal Street was paved in 1882, and electric street lights were installed in 1886. The “Diamond,” as the square was sometimes called, became the transportation hub of the city, especially after the Market Street Bridge opened in 1899. Marker for “Central Square (1900-2004)” across the street.
Side B: The First National Bank erected the present building in 1926 during a period of great industrial and social development in the Mahoning Valley. This bank merged with the Commercial National Bank to form the Union National Bank in 1932. The building was designed by the noted Cleveland architectural firm Walker & Weeks. Frank Walker (1877-1949) and Harry F. Weeks (1871-1935) also designed the Cleveland Public Library, Severance Hall, and Federal Reserve Bank plus over 60 Ohio banks. The 14-story building incorporates classical details such as impressive Corinthian columns and a Roman-inspired frieze. The breathtaking 3-story lobby features a gilded coffered ceiling, marble walls, brass-railed balconies, and colorful mosaic panels. Several other banks have occupied this northwest corner of Youngstown’ Central Square since the 1860’s. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Sponsors: Youngstown Cityscape, Frank and Pearl Gelbman Foundation, Mahoning Valley Historical Society and The Ohio History Connection