BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Right inside the new DeBartolo Commons entrance at Boardman’s Southern Park Mall, there’s now an exhibit featuring the history of the DeBartolo family. If you plan to check it out, give yourself some time.
The DeBartolo Legacy Exhibit has San Francisco 49ers memorabilia, along with vintage pictures of the DeBartolo building and what was once the Joseph Horne Company at the Southern Park Mall. But among the obligatory items are others you wouldn’t expect, like the phone Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr. had on his desk.
“When you think about the sheer number of conversations that happened, the deals that were made. That phone, I just look at that. It gives me goosebumps,” said Brian Gabbert, general manager of the Southern Park Mall.
Other interesting items include Mr. DeBartolo’s Higbee’s coffee cup, with the coffee stains still inside, and the scissors used to cut the ribbon when Southern Park opened in 1970.
“This was actually our corporate team, our corporate marketing team put this together. They had great cooperation from the DeBartolo family. They were able to go through their files and they gave them kind of complete access to what they had — their artifacts and a lot of their memorabilia,” Gabbert said.
There’s also a Mario Lemieux jersey from when the DeBartolos owned the Pittsburgh Penguins and a picture of Mr. Debartolo with President Bush. There’s a model of the Stanley Cup, Mr. DeBartolo’s briefcase — made out of football rawhide — and blueprints from a development. There are also pictures with his kids Denise and Ed, Jr. and one whole wall traces the DeBartolo story from 1909 to the present.
“It takes you a while to go through it but it’s really worth the time. I know I learned a lot about the family and about the man just by the process that we’ve gone through in putting this all together,” Gabbert said.
Denise DeBartolo York commented on the exhibit, saying it’s “really, really wonderful. It tells the history of our family, our businesses and the Mahoning Valley. They really did a tremendous job.”