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Happy birthday, Middletown! 7 things to know about the city’s history for its 185th birthday

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 6:30 AM
By: Rick McCrabb - Staff Writer

Middletown’s incorporation date was Feb. 11, 1833, according to the note in this book about the 42nd General Assembly in Ohio.

On its 185th birthday, here are seven things you should know about Middletown:

READ MORE: 12 famous people you might not have known were from Middletown

1. The ‘Father of Middletown’

Stephen Vail has been called the “Father of Middletown.” He was there when the first plat was recorded in November 1802. The ceremony took place in Hamilton County because there was no Butler County at the time. In 1957, Middletown was designated an All-America City.

2. Canal sparked development

Ground was broken on the Miami-Erie Canal on July 21, 1825. The canal became the major transportation line between Cincinnati and Toledo. The water power it created generated the city’s numerous paper mills along the river.

READ MORE: 5 things to know about Middletown’s storied Wade E. Miller Gym

3. Steel maker comes to town

Armco was founded in 1899, and ground was broken for the steel plant the following year. The first steel was produced in Middletown in 1902. In 1948 it adopted the Armco name and soon thereafter changed its name to Armco Steel Corp.

In 1993, the company moved its headquarters to Pittsburgh and renamed itself AK Steel Holdings reflecting its Armco roots and sizable investment by Kawasaki. The company became publicly traded in 1993.

In 2007 AK Steel moved its headquarters from Middletown to West Chester Twp., and last year opened its $36 million Research and Innovation Center off Interstate 75. The new 120,000-square-foot center replaced the company’s existing research facility in Middletown. The new center was constructed on a 15-acre site located in the Cincinnati-Dayton growth corridor along Interstate 75.

4. Hospital marks 101 years; another one coming

The nonprofit Middletown Hospital Association started in 1913 and a 28-bed hospital opened in Middletown in 1917.

Before building a second Middletown steel plant, George M. Verity, founder of the American Rolling Mill Company, challenged fellow business and city leaders in Middletown in the early 1900s to make quality-of-life improvements to fulfill the city’s potential. Those improvements included a public hospital.

FROM 2017: 7 things to know about Middletown’s hospital on its 100th anniversary

The land for the hospital was donated by George Harvey, co-founder of the Gardner-Harvey Paper Company and member of the Middletown Hospital Association.

Since Middletown Regional Hospital eventually became landlocked, a new facility was built off Interstate 75 and Ohio 122. Atrium Medical Center, licensed for 328 beds, opened on Dec. 9, 2007.

Another Middletown medical facility is expected to open later this year.

Kettering Health Network is building a $30 million medical facility on 15 acres land in Middletown on Ohio 122 just southeast of Interstate 75.

The 67,000-square-foot medical center — Kettering Middletown — will offer a full-service emergency department, outpatient lab and imaging services and medical office building for physician practices. It is expected to create 110 new jobs, including registered nurses, respiratory therapists, imaging and lab technicians and support staff.

The land is less than one mile from Premier Health’s Atrium Medical Center and about six miles from an emergency facility that Kettering Health opened in 2015 in Franklin.

5. Schools continue to grow

South School became Middletown’s first high school when it opened in 1871. High school students attended class on the third floor. The high school moved to Central Avenue in 1909, then to Girard Avenue in 1924. The high school on Breiel Boulevard opened in 1969, and has undergone a major renovation.

The $96 million project will produce a new Middletown Middle School on the south side of the Middletown High School campus and will also bring long-awaited renovations to the high school.

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6. High educational opportunities

Besides two high schools — Middletown and Bishop Fenwick — Middletown offers students an opportunity to continue their education at Cincinnati State Middletown and Miami University Middletown.

MUM opened in Middletown in 1966, followed by a branch campus in Hamilton two years later. Students can earn their associate’s or bachelor’s degrees at MUM. There are about 2,000 students enrolled at MUM.

Cincinnati State, located in the former six-story Duke Energy building on Central Avenue, opened in August 2012. It offers a variety of associate’s degree and certificate programs that can be completed entirely on the Middletown campus, entirely online, or through a combination of both.

Additionally, a number of programs can be started on the Middletown campus and completed on the Clifton campus. The Middletown campus also offers numerous co-op opportunities for students.

There are 552 students taking classes downtown and on-line.

7. Airport improvements

Middletown Regional Airport/Hook Field features the longest uncontrolled asphalt runway in Ohio at 6,100 feet. The airport’s main runway can accommodate jet aircraft as large as a Boeing 757.

There is also a 3,040 foot turf runway at the airport.

The airport also offers private, commercial and helicopter pilot training. It is also home to Start Skydiving and Team Fastrax.

The airport recently received funding from the FAA to develop an updated airport layout master plan. In 2017, the airport received funding to rehab and repave its ramps, taxiways and aprons. Plans are in the works to build an indoor skydiving facility at the airport.