Middletown High School Tour
Regarded as one of the grandest and most modern high schools in the state when it was completed in 1923, the former Middletown High School is a landmark in Middletown. Spanning two full blocks, the yellow-brick building features a main classroom building, central entrance behind a grand colonnade, a gym wing, and an auditorium wing complete with separate marquee-covered entrances. Inscribed in the stone are quotes such as “Religion and Education are the Safeguards of Our Nation” and “That all Our Youth may have a Broader and Richer Personal Life.” In 1952, the legendary Wade E. Miller gymnasium was added, and was soon graced by the basketball hall of famer Jerry Lucas who helped bring Middletown the state basketball titles in 1956 and 1957.
In 1969, a new high school opened and the building became the Freshman High School. In 1981, it became Stephen Vail Middle School. In recent years, consolidation brought the building a new role as Middletown Middle School. The school district is currently constructing a new middle school on the “new” high school campus, meaning the building will soon close as a public school.
Please join us on May 20th for a tour of the building lead by Middle School Principle Michael Valenti. The tour will begin at 10:00 a.m. and attendees should meet at the front entrance (1415 Girard Avenue). There is no cost for the tour, but a $10 suggested donation to support CHAPS expenses is suggested. For planning purposes, reservations are encouraged by email to email@example.com or mail to CHAPS at our Hamilton P.O. Box, but we will attempt to accommodate walk-ins on the day of the tour.
Hamilton Downtown Historic District Officially Added to the National Register of Historic Places
CHAPS is excited to share that the long-discussed Downtown Hamilton Historic District was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 18, 2016. CHAPS was honored to be an early partner in the effort, encouraging the City of Hamilton and Downtown Special Improvement District to consider the designation. Both organizations were supportive and CHAPS worked with the city to advance the project. CHAPS' Vice President, Samiran Chanchani, conducted the necessary research and authored the detailed nomination document, which was accepted by both the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board and the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. CHAPS will highlight more information in our upcoming newsletter, but for now, below is some initial information on the district as taken from the National Register form. CHAPS would like to thank Samiran Chanchani for his leadership in this effort.
SUMMARY OF BUILDINGS AND OTHER HISTORIC RESOURCES
The Hamilton Downtown Historic District comprises 49 resources located along High Street, Court Street, Ludlow Street, Maple Street, South Front Street, South Second Street and North and South Third Street in downtown Hamilton. Hamilton, which has a population of about 62,000 residents, is the seat of Butler County, Ohio. The city is located on the banks of the Great Miami River, which flows about one block to the west of the historic district. The historic district encompasses an area of about 18 acres and includes 39 contributing resources (including 2 previously listed) and 10 non-contributing resources. The district includes two National Register listed buildings, namely the Butler County Courthouse and the Dixon-Globe Opera/Robinson-Schwenn Building. Although it is primarily a business and commercial district, the Hamilton Downtown Historic District also includes properties associated with the civic, social and religious, entertainment and recreation history of Hamilton. The period of significance for the district spans 1855 to 1966, the time of the greatest development of the district.
The tallest and among the most grandly designed buildings are located on High Street, which is the primary artery in Hamilton’s downtown. Other streets in the historic district are typically flanked by two to three story buildings, some of which share walls. Larger properties have associated parking areas, sometimes in adjacent lots. Commercial buildings with store-front retail directly accessible from the street and a separate access to businesses and offices located on the upper floors are characteristic throughout the district. Some contributing buildings have been rehabilitated, retaining their historic architectural integrity, and adaptively reused in the recent past; others, though currently not in use, preserve their historic character. Non-contributing properties in the district have been altered significantly or were constructed recently, after the period of significance for the historic district. The historically commercial district continues to function as one so as to maintain a continuity of use through to the present day. Buildings in the district exemplify a broad range of architectural styles, including Gothic Revival, Late-Victorian Italianate and Renaissance Revival, Beaux-Arts, Art Deco and Mid-Twentieth Century Modern.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The Hamilton Downtown Historic District is eligible for National Register listing under Criterion A (criterion related to its association with patterns of historical events) and Criterion C (criterion associated with architecture and design). The district is significant under Criterion A for its association with the pattern of events related to the history of commerce and the history of politics/government in Hamilton from ca. 1855 to 1966. A vast majority of the properties in the district housed commercial functions, ranging from retail and restaurants to offices and financial institutions. Interspersed buildings and halls in commercial buildings harbored social and cultural uses, helping define the communal character of the commercial district. The second area of significance, politics/government, arises from Hamilton’s role as the seat of Butler County. The district includes three buildings, including the National Register of Historic Places listed Butler County Courthouse which occupies an entire block, associated with this theme. Along with the commercial buildings, these buildings are instrumental in defining the character of the district that also functioned as a civic center. The period of significance, 1855 to 1966, covers a time of sustained commercial growth and change that shaped the district through its history associated with patterns of commercial development and government. Properties in the district include modest buildings constructed during 1855-1887, large, architect designed buildings during a time of rapid growth and urban transformation from 1887-1940, and mid-century modern buildings constructed after the Second World War. Properties in the district are associated with both, local, retail-based commerce as well as large business and financial institutions. Almost all of the existing buildings in the district were constructed during the period of significance and exhibit their historic character and retain their historic integrity, providing a veritable narrative of the history of the district during this period of sustained growth and transformation.
The Hamilton Downtown Historic District is significant under Criterion C for the distinctive design and physical characteristics of contributing buildings, representing characteristic, popular styles from their periods of construction from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. The district includes buildings exemplifying and exhibiting characteristics of the French Second Empire, Gothic Revival, Victorian-Italianate, Renaissance revivals, Romanesque Revival and Richardsonian Romanesque, Art Deco, and Mid-twentieth Century Modernist styles. Even as some of the buildings have been altered over time, a majority retain their integrity of construction, craftsmanship, and materials, and thus the architectural styles associated with their periods of construction. Many existing buildings in downtown Hamilton were designed by locally significant architects Frederick Mueller and George Barkman, who made important contributions to the physical character of the district. Others have been designed by nationally known architects notable for their specialization in the design of banks and other building types.
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