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South Main Street District

South Main Street District in Middletown was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It is described, in part, on the web site of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office of the Ohio Historical Society: "In 1802 Stephen Vail and his son Shobal Vail from New Jersey, obtained patents from the United States government for parts of Section 29, Lemon Township. . . .

The first plat of Middletown contained 52 lots with Main Street the central point. The first block of the South Main Street Historic Area has then always been the heart of Middletown. The oldest residence . . . was built in 1827, the newest (next door) was built 100 years later in 1927. Architecturally they represent a century of style; historically they represent over a century of growth because they have housed men of significance in local history. The largest value of the South Main area is its intact representation of late 19th century and early 20th century architectural styles including Victorian, Romanesque, Queen Anne, Shingle style, Greek revival, Tudor, Carpenter's Gothic, and their variations. "As the commercial part of the town extended eastward out Central Avenue, the prospering leaders of industry built homes to the south on Main Street. . . . As the years went on the leaders of industry bought lots on South Main and built new houses or bought the old houses and enlarged them. The men who lived on Main Street created the history of Middletown; they were innovators and their innovations spread through the United States and the world. "One of South Main Street and Middletown's most famous residents was Paul J. Sorg, a prolific innovator. In 1870, when he was 30, he came to Middletown to establish the P. J. Sorg Tobacco Co. (see separate entry), shortly to become one of the world's largest concerns of its kind." Middletown's first millionaire "was active in tobacco, pumps, farm machinery, bicycles, naval equipment, gas and paper. He brought the Pennsylvania Railroad to Middletown; he served twice as a member of the U. S. Congress (1892). He bought and refurbished the U. S. Hotel, [34 South Main Street, built 1831], making it a fine meeting place for society; he built the Sorg Opera House, 57 South Main Street, (see separate entry) in 1890 to bring culture to Middletonians; he and his wife gave impetus to the building of the First Baptist Church by donating money and the glass windows. "To modern day Middletonians," the OHPO says, Sorg's most amazing contribution to Middletown was his home, the Sorg Mansion, 206 South Main Street. This Romanesque 'castle' was built in 1887. In 1902 a $100,000 addition comprised a north wing with a ballroom, a front porch and turrets, a large carriage house and an imposing stone and iron fence around the five-acre property. Sorg put in a private electric lighting system supplying electricity to his home, the U. S. Hotel, the Sorg Opera House and other Sorg buildings." Pickwick Building, 56 South Main Street, Middletown, is part of Middletown's South Main Historic District. It was built in 1836 and is considered the second oldest surviving commercial building in Middletown. No one remembers when it was first called the Pickwick, but the name is believed to have come from the English author Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers, written in 1836. The building has served many purposes – as an inn, tavern, private residence, doctor's office, lawyer's office, etc. It is the headquarters for the Middletown Historical Society, including the Herbert Fall Gallery of Art.

The Tytus House or the John B. Tytus House, 300 South Main Street, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It was built in the 1860s by J. G. Clark who, about 1880, sold the house to John B. Tytus Sr., a paper mill operator. John Butler Tytus Jr. was born Dec. 6, 1875, in Middletown. After local schooling, John B. Tytus Jr. earned a bachelor degree in English literature at Yale University in 1897. He returned to Middletown as an employee of the American Rolling Mill Company (Armco) in 1904. He developed the continuous strip rolling process, called "a landmark in the history of technology." The system was introduced in 1924. Tytus, who died June 2, 1944, resided in his boyhood home on South Main as an adult.
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