A former abandoned building in downtown Middletown’s Historic District is seeing new life as an overnight accommodations and boutique event venue.
Owner Susie Hatton purchased and renovated the 1800s Italianate Victorian home at 68 S. Main St., preserving many of its historic features.
Branded as The Cornerstone Manor, the space has three bedrooms, each with their own bathroom, plus a formal dining room, living room and kitchen. It’s available for lodging and events, plus a “home-away-from-home” option for those who want to spend a night, a long weekend or more.
Hatton, a Middletown native, lived in California for more than two decades, but when she started returning to town more frequently, she noticed revitalization efforts in the city’s downtown. She met many of the people behind the efforts — 70 percent of whom are women, she said.
“I just liked the vibe,” she said. “I came into town to visit family and would work on my laptop at Triple Moon (Coffee Company) and then decided I might want to buy a place back here.”
Hatton said she started searching downtown Middletown for property to convert into office space for herself, and rent out to architects, attorneys, accountants and other professionals. Finding nothing she liked on Central Avenue, Hatton instead turned to Main Street and discovered 68 S. Main St., purchasing it for $220,000 in August 2017.
“I thought it was too pretty of a house and started really reading into the history and decided it should be an event space,” she said.
The 7,123-square-foot edifice was originally built in 1861 by George Barnitz, the co-founder of Middletown’s first bank and the first banking institution in Butler County, Hatton said.
She and several lifelong friends and business partners tackled renovation efforts to the building’s interior and exterior, something she said was a near-$175,000 investment.
The decor at The Cornerstone Manor, or “68” as local residents refer to it, was specifically chosen to complement its historic architecture and Italianate Victorian elements, including original millwork, hardwood floors, 15-foot ceilings and windows, Hatton said.
“My goal was for it to feel super-comfy and homey,” Hatton said. “You can run around in your bare feet and watch movies and hang out (in the) back.”
Since its late 2018 debut, The Cornerstone Manor has been rented by guests from Colorado to Pennsylvania for bridal showers, weddings and even a “girls weekend,” where friends joined one another for movies, drinks and each other’s company, she said.
Recently, Hatton replaced asphalt at the back of the property with trees and other natural elements to create an outdoor space for various events. That and The Cornerstone Manor’s historic interior have worked well in conjunction with nearby event center The Windamere and event planning company Toast of the Town, both of which are owned by Hatton’s friend, Mica Glaser-Jones.
Hatton, who splits her time between all-natural skincare company Chocolate Sun in California and The Cornerstone Manor in Middletown, sits on the board of directors for Downtown Middletown Inc.
The Cornerstone Manor aims to collaborate with The Swire Inn, Rolling Mill Brewing Company and Sorg Opera House, to transform the area into Middletown’s entertainment district, she said.
That area and efforts along Middletown’s Central Avenue are “just on the tip” of the city’s overall economic resurgence, Hatton said.
“(I) love to be part of the revitalization,” she said. “What’s going on (with) Main Street is super-cool and a little bit different than Central, and I’m excited that it’s sort of based around entertainment and dining.”
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