Thursday, September 12, 2013

Brownstone Cafe

This must be my week for encountering historic buildings.  The other day I explored the history of a nearby eight sided schoolhouse that I drive by regularly.  If you missed that post you can read about it here.

Then a few days ago, I had business in the Middletown, Pennsylvania area.  Afterwards we had lunch at a very unique restaurant, an historic Middletown landmark which was formerly a bank.

According to the information given on the restaurant placemats, the building is in the Richardson Romanesque Style, and is a fine example of the edifices built of native brownstone in this area during the Victorian Era.

The bank was built in 1892 and 1893 for the National Bank of Middletown.  When this facility closed in bankruptcy in 1896 (wow, that didn't last long), the building was purchased by the Farmers Bank.  Over the years it evolved from the Farmers Bank, to the Farmers Trust Company of Middletown, to the National Bank and Trust Company of Central Pennsylvania, to the National Central Bank, to the Hamilton Bank, a Core States Bank.  Apparently this is just what most banks do, for every bank I've ever done business with has changed hands numerous times over the years.

Beautiful sitting area in front of the restaurant
The bank served the Middletown area for almost a century, until the building was purchased in 1998 by Keith and Carole Matinchek, natives to the area.  They then opened the doors as the "Brownstone Cafe."

While we waited for our meals, we had a good look at the interior of the place.  There are obvious reminders that this place once served the community as a banking institution.

Glass barriers remain, probably from the days when the customers did their business in the front of the bank, and the employees and vault were in the back areas.

In the front of the restaurant, an old safe is now in use as a beverage station.

A cabinet of safe deposit boxes is used in the rear area as another beverage station.

I enjoyed my tuna melt, which, unlike most tuna melt sandwiches, was served on the two halves of an English muffin.  It was delicious.  Unfortunately I didn't have enough restraint and ate the whole thing, sabotaging myself from being able to try one of the many delicious looking desserts.

Upon leaving the building, we noticed the night deposit box is still there on the side of the building.  Is there a stash of cash still in the basement?  Why the barred windows down there?

Out front there stands an interesting clock.

There are not that many restaurants in Middletown, so if you ever find yourself passing through there, I'd highly recommend the Brownstone Cafe.  We weren't disappointed.

Oh, and by the way, from the looks of things, Middletown appears to be good and ready for Halloween.  Wouldn't you agree?


  1. Love old buildings and such. When I first moved to Texas I noticed that there were no really old buildings. Some of the houses friends of mine lived in up in PA were older than any major building down here. Back then there were only shacks and Tepees (grin).

  2. Glad that they could use that great building for something useful!

  3. I always like to see old building repurposed!

  4. That is one beautifully restored old building, nice to see.

  5. That is so neat - and they did such a great job of keeping the old banking stuff in the restaurant. Nice to know the food is good also.

  6. A girl after my own heart with this post, the bank, the old safe, and then the clock as well! I will add this town to my list of places to visit that is fantastic that they are carrying on with the theme instead of just filling an empty space.