The Fifth Third Museum
Where we invest in history
Celebrating our shared heritage in Cincinnati
Since 1858, Fifth Third Bank has left an indelible signature on the people and places of Cincinnati. Now you can explore the bank’s rich heritage and legacy at the Fifth Third Bank Museum.
Explore how Fifth Third—and the city—have grown over the decades through events and connections that not only shaped the bank but also helped shape the Cincinnati community.
Proud of Our Past. Inspired by Our Future.
On June 17, 2023, Fifth Third turned 165 years old. Watch a few scenes from our history that share our growth and innovation through the decades.
Banks like Fifth Third Union Trust did their part during World War II to support soldiers on the frontlines and efforts on the homefront. See how Fifth Third supported its country and community.
How We Got Our Name
We’re often asked about our name. While a few legends exist over the origin of our name, watch here for the real story.
Honoring Our Heroes
Melvin Schmidt started at Fifth Third as a mailroom clerk after he graduated from Hughes High School in the late 1930s. He volunteered for the Army Air Corps’ pilot training in 1942 but ended up qualifying as a radio operator. After training, he was assigned to the 703rd Heavy Bombardment Squadron of the 445th Bomb Group. The squadron flew B-24 Liberator bombers. Schmidt’s commanding officer was none other than Hollywood actor Jimmy Stewart. Schmidt was with the Squadron for his entire tour in the European Theater, flying dozens of bombing missions.
On March 3, 1945, disaster struck. While flying a mission to destroy the Rothensee Oil Refinery near Magdeburg, Germany, Schmidt’s aircraft (#44-48844) was struck twice by anti-aircraft fire two minutes out from its target and started breaking up. Out of the crew of ten men, only Schmidt, S/Sgt. Carl Goff (Waist-Gunner), Lt. Ira Castles (Navigator), and Lt. Matthew Bahelka (Bombardier) were able to bail out before the aircraft hit the ground. The survivors were taken as prisoners by the Germans and held for two months until the end of the war in May 1945. For his service, he received an American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, and a World War II Victory Medal.
After his release and eventual discharge, Schmidt returned home to his position at Fifth Third. He became an auditor and, in 1980, became the Audit Department’s Vice President. He retired in 1984. Schmidt was married to Marian Staud. They had three children. He died in 1995 at the age of 73 and is buried in Saint Joseph New Cemetery on the West Side of Cincinnati.
Our featured exhibits include:
The Golden Age of Banking, Brewing and Distilling in Cincinnati
Explores the lives and careers of Fifth Third’s past leaders who have connections to some of Cincinnati’s well-known beer and whiskey distilling companies. From the Moerleins to the Gaffs and Fleischmann’s you’ll learn how these beer and whiskey barons built their businesses and also helped Fifth Third grow to be the bank it is today.
The People’s Banker
History Spotted Here
We're happy you spotted a historic object at your favorite Fifth Third branch or on the Signature Wall at the Fifth Third Museum. You can learn more about what you saw here.
History Spotted at our Branches
In 1919, Fifth-Third National (now Fifth Third Bank) opened its first branch in Cincinnati. This iconic clock was displayed above or to the side of every Fifth Third’s branch entrance until the mid-1950s. In fact, in the 1930s, "meet me under the clock" was a popular phrase among customers as they gathered to socialize before dinner, a movie or other events downtown.
In the early 1960s, Fifth Third was one of the first banks to transition its accounting systems to computers. Processes that used to take days now took seconds thanks to an NCR 304 computer system that spanned an entire floor of the bank's headquarters.
In 1977, Fifth Third Bank introduced JEANIE®, the first online shared network of automated teller machines in the United States.
Fifth Third Museum Signature Wall
The Signature Wall features the signatures of more than 25 Fifth Third Bank presidents and other prominent Cincinnatians who not only helped shape Fifth Third Bank but also helped the city of Cincinnati prosper. A key to the signatures is located on the pillar in the middle of the museum.
Leather-bound ledgers were used by tellers and bookkeepers in the early 20th century to manage customer accounts. Passbooks were used to record customers’ account transactions. All transactions were handwritten until the advent of computerized accounting processes in the mid-1950s. The ledgers displayed above are from Western Bank & Trust Co. (formerly Western German Bank) and the Farmers Bank & Savings Co., both acquired by Fifth Third. The ledger displayed below is a Fifth Third Union Trust daily cash log, which tracked cash on hand at each branch. Also displayed are Fifth Third Union Trust Co. customer passbooks.
We’re proud to support the University of Cincinnati and its students and are excited to be a part of the state-of-the-art Fifth Third Arena. The fully transformed home of the UC Bearcats basketball and volleyball teams opened at the end of 2018.
Caroline Williams was a popular Cincinnati artist whose "Spot in Cincinnati" sketches were published weekly in the Cincinnati Enquirer from 1932-1979. Her sketches depicted Cincinnati landmarks as well as scenes from around Kentucky and Indiana. Williams also had a strong relationship with Fifth Third. Her sketches appeared in the bank’s annual reports in the 1950s and ’60s as well as on its annual holiday greeting cards. The Fifth Third Museum archive contains over 20 of the printing plates used to reproduce Williams’ beloved sketches.
These two $5 banknotes from Fifth National Bank feature the inked signature of Charles Hinsch, who was cashier of Fifth National before he became president (see bottom left of each note). The bills were printed in 1888 and are the only remaining $5 banknotes in this series. The $100 bill, or "C Note", from the Bank of Henderson, Kentucky, is from 1898. The Lincoln National $5 bill was printed in 1921.
Three of Fifth Third’s early presidents worked in the distilling industry before turning to banking. Charles Fleischmann, Oliver Perin, and Jacob Schmidlapp all owned Cincinnati distilleries that produced spirits that included whiskey, bourbon, gin and vodka. Perin partnered with the Gaff Brothers in a distilling business starting in 1855. Fleischmann and his brother Max opened a distillery, also in partnership with the Gaffs, under the Fleischmann name in the western Riverside neighborhood of Cincinnati. Fleischmann-brand gin and vodka are still made. Schmidlapp opened the Live Oak Distillery at Ludlow Avenue and the Mill Creek, where he primarily produced whiskeys. The distillery was directly across the street from where Cincinnati State Technical and Community College sits today. Displayed here, from left, are a Fleischmann’s Congress Hall Rye bottle, a Live Oak Whiskey decanter, and a Fleischmann’s Gin bottle.
Fifth Third has been both a sponsor and a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals since 2009, working in year-round collaboration with the team. Katie Blackburn’s signature also appears here. She is executive vice president of the Bengals. She joined Fifth Third’s Board of Directors in 2014.
These machines were introduced in 1870, but this Todd Protectograph Model 74 machine is likely from the 1940s. A check was placed on the "table" so that the protective text ended up in the right field of the check. Then, the amount was embossed on the check with the crank. At the same time, the space around the amount was “locked” so that the amount could not be changed. The brochure, for a Todd Model 33, was found in the attic of the Fifth Third Financial Center in St. Bernard, Ohio (formerly the Citizens Bank of St. Bernard).
In March 2019, Fifth Third merged with Chicago’s MB Financial Inc. in a deal that made Fifth Third the fourth largest bank by deposits in Chicago. When the merger was completed, Fifth Third became the ninth largest U.S. consumer bank.
If you lived in Cincinnati in the 1970s, chances are "5" meant more than just a number. To most, it represented the Cincinnati Reds’ Johnny Bench, one of the greatest catchers ever to play major league baseball. For 31 years, Fifth Third teamed up with Johnny Bench as its spokesperson. From 1973 to 2004, the Hall of Famer pitched everything from BankAmericard® to JEANIE® to Fifth Third’s One Account® and more for the bank.
On Fifth Third’s early computer systems, customer data for accounting and bookkeeping processes was stored on computer reels. Fifth Third was one the first banks in the country to venture into electronic banking in the mid-1950s.
Fifth Third has always been an innovator in customer convenience. In the 1950s, the bank opened branches in the shopping centers being built in the city’s suburban neighborhoods, starting with Western Hills Shopping Center and Swifton Center. These offices offered evening hours for the first time. In May 1961, Fifth Third introduced drive-through banking with the opening of the Camargo-Madeira branch. Fifth Third has continued to make it easier for customer to manage their finances anytime and anywhere through the development of the Jeanie® ATM system, opening of Bank Mart® locations, and the advent of online and mobile banking.
Fifth Third has been a proud partner with NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing since 2012, and it is the primary sponsor of the No. 17 Fifth Third Ford race car, currently driven by Chris Buescher. This car hood, trophy and helmet are from then-driver Ricky Stenhouse’s 2017 NASCAR Cup Series win at Daytona.
Former Fifth Third President, Chairman, and CEO George Schaefer Jr. is a Vietnam War veteran. The West Point graduate served as a captain in a construction battalion charged with building supply roads while under constant threat of enemy attack. Displayed here is the OG-107 Tropical Combat Jacket he wore during his tour of duty.
While we believe there may be more from prior wars, the men pictured here are the two Fifth Third employees known to have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country during World War II.
Maj. Havelock Nelson, left, was an investment analyst at Fifth Third between serving in both World War I and World War II. He was called to active service and sent to the Philippines with the 192nd Tank Battalion not long before the Japanese invaded the islands in 1941. The awards shown next to his picture include his Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal, Army Good Conduct Award, World War I Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Presidential Unit Citation.
Pvt. William McInnes, right, was a bookkeeper at Fifth Third before entering the Army in 1942. He was assigned to Company L, 376th Infantry Regiment, 94th Division and was sent to Europe to participate in the Normandy campaign in August 1944. The awards shown next to his picture include his Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Award, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Presidential Unit Citation.
Their stories are featured in the museum’s History Wall.
Passbooks, embossers, interest computation tables, a stamp, and a protectograph were all used in the days before computerized and digital banking.
Explore Our Timeline
Here you’ll find plenty of Fifth Third’s key moments and industry firsts that may surprise you including how the bank was the first to open branches in shopping malls and grocery stores, and the first to launch an online shared network of ATMs, named JEANIE.®
The Fifth Third Museum archives contains a diverse mix of historic materials documenting the past and present of the bank, including physical objects, audio and visual media, periodicals, paintings, photographs and other bank documents. For research requests, please email us at FifthThirdMuseum@53.com. Please allow 3–5 days for a response.
The Fifth Third Museum is free and open to the public.
38 Fountain Square Plaza
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Monday–Thursday: 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Friday: 10–2 p.m.
Closed Saturday and Sunday
To schedule group tours or appointments: