bank bag
The inspiration for our research.

We recently received some awesome items donated by the Burt family (one of our pioneer families). One of the donated items was this cloth bank deposit bag with drawstring closure. It really peaked my interest in the bank. As I began looking into this bank, I came across another one, and then another one. So I set out on a journey of research. I hope this helps paint a picture of what banking was like 100+ years ago.

Redford had three banks in the early 1900s, all with a similar name, size, and exterior features, and within a block of each other – basically a bank on every corner. This area was annexed by the City of Detroit in 1926 and is now referred to as “Old Redford”. It may not be located in Redford anymore, but we love it just the same!

The Redford Bank / The Redford State Savings Bank

redford bank
Looking southeast on Grand River Ave. The cross street at the stoplight is Lahser Rd. The Redford State Savings Bank is on the right.

The first bank in Redford was The Redford Bank, which opened on June 28, 1909. Originally this bank was in a “little red building” (according to an old newspaper article) at the southeast corner of Grand River & Mill Street (now Redford Ave).

original RSSB
You can see the building and the bank sign on the right side of this picture.

On April 4, 1914, the bank received its charter from the State Banking Department and the name changed to The Redford State Savings Bank. One of the founders, Thomas C. Houghten, came face to face with an armed robber on October 16, 1917:

Houghten 1917 holdup
Detroit Free Press  |  October 17, 1917

On December 15, 1918, just over a year after this incident, Houghten was once again held up by robbers at the bank and was shot and killed:

Houghten Reward
Detroit Free Press  |  December 17, 1918

With the bank’s success they began to outgrow their building and decided to have a new one erected. Construction took place in 1920-21 and they moved into the much larger building at the southeast corner of Grand River & Lahser in April 1921. The building, pictured below,  was eventually torn down during the widening of Grand River in 1931.

 

Redford SS Bank
Quite an impressive building! The sign out front appears to be the same one from the original building.
Redford State Savings Bank photo_651568314908716
1929 Brochure – Celebrating 20 years in business

So, whatever happened to that “little red building” the bank was originally in? After the bank moved into their bigger building, it became a library. The photo below was taken in 1921.

original RSSB 1921
In the center of the photo a “Library Center” sign is in the window. There is also a little girl sitting on the steps 🙂

Currently there is a MetroPCS at this location (22041 Grand River) but it is not known if this is the same building. What do you think? Maybe it’s because I want to believe it’s the same structure, but it looks the same to me!

A bank, a library, a cell phone store…this building has seen it all!

The Redford State Savings Bank Advertisements

Measuring tape, likely given out in 1921 as they were promoting their new building.

1910-08-06 Redford bank ad
Ad in the Redford Record, August 6, 1910

 

Redford SS Bank ad 1928
Featured ad in a 1928 publication called Greater Redford

If you have any photos of this bank we’d love to see them! Stay tuned for part 2, featuring the Peoples State Bank of Redford. Believe it or not we have photos of the construction of the building in 1914 and photos of the building today!

Thanks again to the Burt family for donating the deposit bag. It’s an amazing item to have in our collection! Swing by the museum to see it on display.

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