Introducing The Windamere
If you know me you know I adore just about anything that can be described as vintage! There is just something about a location with a long history that reminds me of a great classic romance. When I first heard about Mica’s restoration of her space I couldn’t wait to see it all come together. Her eyes light up when she tells the story of how much work went into preserving the great details. So when she hosted her very first event for wedding professionals I had to go and bring my camera. You really need to tour this incredible space if you have an upcoming event. Can’t you just imagine having a Gatsby theme or Masquerade Ball? Or an old time Jane Austen tea? Thanks to Mica and her fiance for sharing their inspiration with us!
Tell us a little bit about the history behind your building. What made you want to purchase the space and turn it into a venue
The Windamere was originally built in 1929 as the Oglesby-Barnitz Bank, the first bank in Middletown. It remained the OB bank until the late 1960’s when Bank One took it over, however, the building has been vacant for the last 13 years. My fiancé Theron and I were interested in starting a new business and a friend of ours told us we should look at the buildings in Middletown. We looked at a couple of buildings before we saw this one, but this one was love at first sight! I immediately knew how beautiful the space could be for hosting weddings and events. Two years later and our dream has finally come true.
What are some of the unique touches that you have included that have kept the history of the building?
We repurposed as much of the materials as possible during renovations. When we removed the bank teller counter on the main floor, we relocated the decorative wainscoting to the opposite wall to carry on the same look around the room. We reused the three privacy booths that were located to the left of the vault into our newly constructed restrooms as the bathroom stalls. We also uncovered the original black and white checkered terrazzo floor under the carpet, and although heavily damaged over the years with over 100 holes throughout, we were able to locate a company that was able to repair and polish the terrazzo floor which we will be using as our dance floor. We are excited to showcase the original floor, rather than keeping it covered. Lastly, we had major repair work completed on much of the plaster walls and moldings to keep the building original (replication of bricks, window frames and columns). We also added gold accents to much of the decorative plaster ornamentation and moldings to showcase the craftsmanship of that era.
What is the story behind the name?
Our business partner, and wildlife artist, Christopher Walden is originally from New Zealand and he wanted to name the building something that reminded him of his homeland. ‘Windemere’ was actually a sheep station in Australia where his grandmother lived before coming to New Zealand. We liked the name and we felt that it fit the building very well. We unfortunately had to modify the spelling slightly since other businesses already existed with that name–but it was close enough and we were happy to be able to register the name with the state.
Do you have a list of prefered caterers?
We do not have a preferred list of caterers at this time. During our first year of business, we want to work with multiple caterers to see how they work in our space, with our staff and our guests. We will refer our brides and other clientele to caterers, florists, photographers, and DJs around Middletown, Dayton, and Cincinnati over time, but we do not currently have a ‘preferred’ list.
When did you first realize you wanted to work with weddings?
I have always been involved in the bridal world somehow since high school. I used to sketch wedding dresses and formalwear and I went to BGSU in Ohio for Fashion Design. I have also planned many weddings and events over the past 15 years, but I realized I truly wanted to own my own venue so I could help people make their dream weddings come true.
What is your training or background?
I have fifteen years of sales and marketing in service related industries with a focus on the bridal industry, fine arts, and beer, wine and liquor sales. I was a rep for Heidelberg Distributing which gave me great training and exposure in organizing events, I was a manager and bridal consultant at a major bridal wear company, and a marketing manager for Walden Art Studios, and I have led and worked numerous fund raisers on various levels, both personally and professionally over the years.
How long have you been in business? Where are you located?
We are brand new! We completed our renovations October 18th and we had our first event October 20th. We are located in the Historic Canal District in Middletown, Ohio (2 South Main Street)
Why did you start your business?
My fiance’ was interested in starting a business and I was at a stage in my life where I was tired of following the bouncing ball (working for others). I wanted to branch out on my own and capitalize on my creativity and what I truly enjoyed most. This business is a culmination of my work and life experiences, skills, and passion for creating memorable events!
What is your favorite part of a wedding?
Seeing the bride and groom’s face when they see each other for the first time on their wedding. No matter how long they have been together, the first look changes everything. I also love being a part of their celebration with family and friends; making it an event they will cherish and remember forever.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I look for inspiration everywhere! Pinterest, Instagram, bridal magazines, friends, blogs, fashion magazines, and HGTV.
What are your favorite upcoming trends?
Sparkle, more sophisticated color palettes, and even more sparkle!
Do you have any new favorite products or offerings?
It is not new but it is our favorite; we showcase the original bank vault that may be used for the portable bar. Who gets to see such an amazing safe door, let alone go inside a vault of that size! There are over 1500 safety deposit boxes and 12 smaller safes caged inside the vault. Brides can secure one of the safety deposit boxes, as a package option, to put their wedding mementos into, similar to a time capsule, to come back to years later to open together.
What is one thing you wish brides knew while planning a wedding?
That no matter how much you plan, not everything will go perfect. Just take a breath and keep everything in perspective. No one will notice if the beverage napkins don’t match the bridesmaids’ dresses.
Anything else you want to share with us?
We are excited to introduce our beautiful venue to brides and grooms looking for a unique, private and historic location with great spots for photo opportunities! We are also excited to be located in Middletown and a part of their community and ongoing revitalization. We want people to know we are not just about weddings and receptions though; although we specialize in them, The Windamere is an amazing space for any event! We are excited to host all occasions including retirements, fund raisers, birthday or company parties, dances, graduations, training events, and more — and we love to give people tours of the building!
The building is handicap accessible, there is plenty of free parking on site, and we have free Wi-Fi as well.