WHITING, Ind. (CBS) — Whiting, Indiana is 20 miles from downtown Chicago and a town that’s perhaps best known for Pierogi Fest.
But a longtime family business wanted to make sure Whiting is on your radar for another reason – banking. Yes, banking.READ MORE: Teen Charged In Pair Of September 2020 Carjackings On South Side
CBS 2’s Insider Lauren Victory followed old history inside the town’s newest attraction.
“The cool thing about this is this has deposits from all of the customers,” said historian Andy Collins, showing off a bank ledger from 1907 inside the new Centier Bank Museum.
Collins had all sorts of “cool things” to show off – from a 19th-century safe to a 1950’s calculator with a hand crank.
“This is actually the vault door to our original location,” he said, pointing to what most might think is just a rusty piece of metal. Apparently, someone in the community used it as a work bench for years before realizing its significance.
The museum also features the arched entrance from the first Bank of Whiting which is the former name of Centier Bank. Henry Schrage founded the company is 1895 on 119th Street.
“The town was in need of a bank. There was no banks. I always have this vision of people digging holes in their backyards and shoving it into their mattress. There was no safe place for their financial resources,” said Anthony Contrucci – who is married to Henry Schrage’s great-great-granddaughter, Melissa.
The husband and wife are now fifth-generation leaders at the company. They hope bank customers, employees, local school districts and even travelers in need of a bathroom break stop by to see the business’s 126 years of meticulously-kept history.READ MORE: Desperate To Find More Staff, Some Fast Food Restaurants Recruiting Customers
Some artifacts came from old employees, others from Northwest Indiana residents.
“We had hundreds and hundreds of photos and different things that people decided to give to us,” said Melissa Contrucci, whose dad is the bank’s current president and CEO.
The museum will open to the public next week. But Collins, Centier Bank’s corporate historian, has a lot more work ahead of him.
Wearing special gloves, he showed us another ledger from the 1890’s that needs careful analysis.
“A lot of these people, just generationally, they’re still customers with us,” he said, pointing to old deposit entries. “Everybody that’s in here, you know, they’re not here anymore to tell their story.”
Collins demonstrated some tools he uses the preserve the artifacts like giant tweezers to turn brittle pages and a little brush that cleans dirt and dust.
With plenty left to uncover for possible additional museum displays, it makes sense to store the precious details in a vault.MORE NEWS: 16-Year-Old Boy Shot On Porch In West Garfield Park
Admission to the Centier Bank Museum is free. It officially opens on Wednesday, June 30.