Public has chance to own piece of historic Middletown building


WHAT: Open house at Middletown's historic Sorg Opera House

WHEN: 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 15

WHERE: 62 S. Main St., Middletown

MORE INFO: Email Chuck Miller at

An upcoming open house at Middletown’s historic Sorg Opera House will not only offer a tour for the public, but also the opportunity for visitors to buy the theater’s 60-year-old seats for $100 apiece.

“We want to sell the old Colonial theater seats, which should give us close to enough working capital to get (building) code work done,” said Chuck Miller, president of the non-profit organization Sorg Opera Revitalization Group (SORG). “The code work is holding us back from having a sit-down public event.”

The tour will take place Sunday, May 15.

Ken Bowman of SORG said 98 percent of the 1891 building's roof is repaired, but to have public performances in the building, the organization must install new fire-escape doors, rebuild the sprinkler system, repair emergency lighting and restore the bathrooms to attractive and working order.

“It should cost us $80,000 to $100,000 to get us into compliance,” Bowman said.

Once the building is up to code, it will be able to host performances for the community, but only during mild weather, because the building lacks heating and air conditioning.

Denise Brodsky, of SORG, said she believes those performances will further help raise money for the theater.

“Hosting an audience will certainly raise community awareness regarding this beautiful building,” she said.

Restoration efforts received disappointing news this spring when a $1 million request for state funding was not included in the state's two-year capital budget.

Ultimately, SORG officials hope to return the theater to its former glory. They envision hosting regular performances in the theater, while filling the upstairs office spaces and its store fronts along Main Street.

After receiving a donation of 1,100 “gently used” seats from a Northern Kentucky movie theater that was upgrading its seats — an estimated $250,000 contribution — SORG can sell the existing red-metal-framed seats that have red vinyl cushions with tan “corduroy” cloth seat backs. Seat-sponsor memberships will be available at three levels. Those two-year memberships will include rights to ticket pre-sales, ticket discounts and a plaque announcing the sponsorship.

Details on the “Take-a-Seat” and “Seat Sponsor” programs will be available during the weekend events.

Brodsky said SORG “has generated $540,000 in gifts, our own funds, a forgivable loan, grants and in-kind donations.” That amount includes the contribution of the movie-theater seats.

Miller said the organization and its many volunteers during the past three years have completed the complex process of becoming a non-profit agency and “have done a lot of work getting the property cleaned up, trash and debris removed, and stabilizing the property.”

“We want people to visit the Sorg theater complex to learn about the progress and share our vision — something you cannot see from the street,” Miller said. “We also hope to raise working capital to get the theater into Middletown code compliance.”

The organization’s mission statement is to create “a center for, and partner in, the greater cultural, historical and economic communities of Middletown and the Cincinnati-Dayton metroplex.”

The Sorg open house will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the opera house, 62 S. Main St., in Middletown.

To learn more, contact Chuck Miller at

Members of SORG’s board of directors and its volunteer group will be at the event.

The opera house also will be a stop at the sold-out, fourth-annnual Women's Wine and Chocolate event on Saturday.

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