Gaming lounge is planned for former Hamilton church

James Botner has big plans for a big former church at the corner of North Seventh and High streets.

Cosmic Horror Gaming Lounge, which takes its name from the father of modern horror, American writer H.P. Lovecraft, is expected to open in early 2024 at the former Calvary Church along the High Street corridor.

Botner wanted a gaming lounge because he’s a gamer.

“I’ve always been I’m very in touch with all these communities I’m going to be in. I watch Anime, I read Monga, I play D&D. We want something everyone wants to love,” he said.

Botner, a Hamilton native who moved with his family to Florida when he was 12, said he had two options for his gaming lounge. The former church built in 1894 or a location in Liberty Twp.

The Hamilton church is the ideal spot because it has the noir aesthetics he wanted.

“We wanted something to reflect the 1920s gothic aesthetic,” Botner said. “We’ve always been looking for something like an older church, but this one specifically, I just kind of stumbled across it. Given the shape it’s in, it was going to get torn down. No one’s going to want to pick this up and put the cost of the building back into repairing the building.”

According to the Butler County Auditor’s website, the church sold for $110,000 at the end of last month, and Botner said he’ll have to be at least that much “back into it to get it where I want it.”

There will be a number of funding sources he’s pursuing to make the changes he needs, such as a new roof and mold remediation, which are the largest expenses, but there won’t be a lot of changes.

The ornate woodwork that make up much of the walls and doors and the stained glass will stay.

But once the roof and mold remediation are done, “there’s going to be a small army of people getting to working on this thing.”

While the goal is a January 2024 opening, he said the worst-case scenario would be the first of March.

The structure of the gaming lounge will feature the main retail area, which is where the primary worship area used to be. But other aspects will be available to the public at a cost, either as a day pass or a membership. Those areas include private video gaming areas, tabletop and board games, a small movie theater/viewing area, and a couple of Dungeons & Dragons gaming areas.

Botner said his business model will be fluid, but “our values are set in stone. Our values will not change.” Part of those values include partnering with local businesses and organizations to make the area more of a community hub than a gaming business where a rotation of food trucks could be set up outside the building, and students after school could study in the library or play video or board games, or read, until their parents are home.

Botner and his wife, Alisha, wanted to invest in Hamilton because it’s home, and they wanted to give back. They’re also in the process of relocating back to Hamilton from Liberty Twp.

“We want to put a heavy focus on charity work, we want to put a focus on your marginalized group,” he said. “We felt we could do more good in Hamilton and have a bigger impact here. That’s why we invested in the city, that’s why we like being so close to a neighborhood. We want to be able to help kids.”

They’ll be working on programs for students, either giving them discounts or free memberships for good grades, he said.

Though parking will be an issue, but admits “it’s not as dire as it seems.” There is on-street parking on High Street and North Seventh Street, but they’re talking with their neighbors, like the Masonic Lodge next door, to help with parking logistics.

For more information on Cosmic Horror, and to follow the remodeling journey, visit

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