A Maryland couple has purchased the 126-year-old Sorg Mansion and plan to renovate the historic property and move to Middletown, The Journal has learned.
The mansion, located on South Main Street in the heart of the city’s historic district, was sold recently for $225,000 to Mark and Traci Barnett, who live in Baltimore, Md., according to the Butler County Auditor’s Office. Mark Barnett said he and his wife, who have purchased and renovated four homes, plan to invest another $400,000 to $500,000 to get the property “back to par,” he said.
The Barnetts plan to relocate to Middletown once the renovations are complete, and may turn the property into a bed-and-breakfast, said Mark Barnett, 56, a railroad engineer.
When asked whether he considers himself an investor, he laughed and said: “No. Crazy. Maybe.”
Rachel S. Lewitt, broker and owner of Finkelman Real Estate, which handled the property, called the sale of the mansion “a great day and another positive movement for the city of Middletown. It’s a complete win.”
Lewitt called the Sorg Mansion “a critical piece of Middletown’s history.”
She had been negotiating with the Barnetts for the last 18 months, she said. Mark Barnett said he saw the listing on the Internet and immediately was interested. He was impressed by the mansion’s exterior and the way the interior was preserved.
“They have done well to maintain the integrity of the property,” he said.
He said the roof immediately will be repaired, and the hope is to bring the property back to its original appearance, he said.
Jeffrey Diver, executive director of the Middletown Historical Society, said he was thrilled to learn the owners plan to preserve the “gorgeous building that has historical significance to the city.”
In September 2009, the property was listed for sale for $525,000, according to Middletown Journal archives.
The mansion has been home to dance and photo studios, a construction company and low-income apartments over the years, but more recently had become a haven for drug dealers and crime.
It was built in 1887 by Paul J. Sorg, one of Middletown’s first industrialist and first multi-millionaires, for $1 million.
The three-story, 12-bedroom, eight bathroom brick-and-stone Romanesque castle features 12-foot ceilings and fireplaces in every bedroom. There’s also a ballroom, formal dining room and library. Much of the original stained glass remains today, according to Lewitt.
The property has been in the Finkelman family since 1936, said Lewitt, the granddaughter of the late Harry A. Finkelman, who died in 2004.
She said her grandfather would be “really pleased” because the mansion has been sold to a couple with “good hearts and it’s in their hands now.”
Lewitt said she can’t count the number of hours she has spent over the years in the mansion. She was asked if she’s passionate about the property.
“Of course,” she said, dabbing at tears. “It’s a piece of artwork. Priceless beauty. We are so fortunate to have her in our city.”