The Pointe

MidPointe Library's Official Blog

Local History #tbt Blog - The Glorious Life of a Middletown School

When it was completed in 1923 at a cost of over one million dollars, the magnificent building was hailed as “one of the most expensive and finest schools in the state at that time.” (1)

MMS arial.jpg

By approving a 20-year bond issue four years earlier (1), Middletonians got exactly what they paid for : a state-of-the-art edifice “spanning two full blocks,” (2)  that would become the school’s “third home.” (1)

Its name : Middletown High School. And what a grand building it was.

Among its amenities were the first gymnasium in the public school system with permanent spectator benches, shower rooms and an indoor running track. There were  55 classrooms, a greenhouse, the latest heating and air-circulation systems, oak-paneled offices and a board room with a working fireplace. (1)

And who could forget the school system’s first gymnasium with indoor running track, shower rooms and permanent spectator benches?

But the school’s “crown jewel” was its spectacular auditorium for music and oratory. It boasted a lobby with marble walls and floor, a foyer, box office, ornate plaster adorned with gold trim, silk wall tapestries, Tiffany glass chandeliers, black leather seats for nearly 1,300 people, sterling silver plates that numbered the aisles and seats, a huge stage with many sets of drapes, an orchestra pit, and a projection booth with the latest equipment. (1)

In the early 1950s the school site expanded to include the Wade E. Miller gymnasium which faced Curtis Street. Named after the former Middletown High principal, the gym would become the home of basketball legends and never-to-be-forgotten games. (2)

But change was inevitable...

In 1969 the building became the home of the freshman class and was named, appropriately, the Freshman School. In the fall of 1981 younger occupants moved in. With them came another name change -- Vail Middle School in honor of Middletown founder Stephen Vail. (1). Its last and current name, Middletown Middle School, was bestowed several years later.

Today the stately structure, reported to be the oldest school building in Butler County (3), stands vacated yet proud behind metal fencing while its former students prepare for another year in a new Middletown Middle School on the Breiel Boulevard campus of Middletown High School (3).

Meanwhile, back on Girard Avenue, the ghosts of grandeur and glory remain, knowing that they, too, will soon have to leave the premises.

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Their old haunt has a date with a demolition crew.


  1. “A Brief History of the Middletown City School District 1800 to 1987” by Norman M. Hayes

  2. Middletown High School Tour” by the Citizens for

Historic and Preservation Services

   3. “How Middletown’s newest school is progressing           and what it will offer students,” by Michael D. Clark, Journal News, March 15, 2018.


Share your memories of the former Middletown High, Freshman School, Vail Middle School and Middletown Middle School in our comments section.