CHAPS continually monitors important structures across Butler County that face the threat of demolition.
Hamilton (circa 1880s)
The longtime home of several of Hamilton's most prominent industries, the brick structures standing along today's Martin Luther King Boulevard between Dayton and Heaton Streets were constructed in many phases. The plant facing Heaton originally housed the Hooven, Owens, Rentschler Company (H.O.R.), a company that produced steam and diesel engines. The Italianate factory facing Dayton originally housed the Bender Company, a construction outfit. The entire complex was later acquired by the Beckett Paper Company, which had operated at the center of the site since 1848. After multiple acquisitions, the Beckett Mill was most recently operated by Mohawk Fine Papers until early 2012. The complex caught fire in 2015 and portions have been demolished.
Middletown (circa 1911)
The imposing Middletown Public Library building opened with a $25,000 Carnegie grant just months before the Great Flood of 1913, suffering only minimal damage. Designed by George Barkman of Hamilton, the library is one of only two Carnegie funded libraries in Butler County. The building received additions in 1932 and 1959 before being abandoned for a new library that opened closer to downtown in 1983. Later acquired by a women’s shelter, the building was temporarily occupied, but went vacant in the mid-2000's.
CHAPS created the Carnegie Action Committee (CAC)with local residents and later acquired the building in November 2007 from foreclosure. After cleaning out debris, boarding up the building, and paying off fines and back taxes, CHAPS transferred the building to a local businessman. Redevelopment never moved forward and further decay of the property has occurred due to a failing roof. A new owner has acquired the building as of summer 2018 and has exciting redevelopment plans.
CINCINNATI, HAMILTON, & DAYTON DEPOT
Hamilton (circa 1875)
The Cincinnati, Hamilton, & Dayton Railroad (CH&D Railroad) was chartered in 1846 and began operations in 1851. The railroad was instrumental to Hamilton's industrial growth, carrying both materials and goods, as well as passengers. The CH&D constructed the Hamilton passenger station circa 1875 in railroad vernacular. In 1885, a two-story addition was constructed with Victorian Romanesque details. A one-story connector bridges the two structures. The CH&D Railroad was acquired by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1917 and underwent a series of mergers and acquisitions. The station became a stop on Amtrak's Cardinal Line between Washington D.C. and Chicago in 1982.
In 2005, Amtrak stopped serving the station, although the Cardinal Line still passes by the depot three times each week. The station is marginally maintained, although one of the distinctive large wall dormers with elaborate stone trim has collapsed. The station is awkwardly situated between two forking rail lines and a MLK Boulevard, making redevelopment a greater challenge.
Middletown (circa 1922)
Completed in 1922, the Manchester Hotel was the center of social life in Middletown for decades, hosting community events, weddings, proms, and other gatherings. The namesake of the hotel is the Duke of Manchester, and the duke's coat-of-arms graces the main entrance. In 1936, the hotel was purchased by ARMCO Steel and expanded. In the era of the automobile, it was rebranded at the Manchester Motor Inn in the 1950s. ARMCO owned the hotel until 1985 and the hotel operated as the Manchester Inn and Conference Center until early 2012.
The City of Middletown acquired the building in 2011 and transferred the property to a Chicago-area developer to renovate the property. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places to make it eligible for historic preservation tax credits. No rehabilitation plans have moved forward, however, and the building continues to deteriorate.