Hamilton’s history stretches back to 1791 with the establishment of Fort Hamilton along the Great Miami River. By the mid-19th century, the city was a hot spot for manufacturing, but the industry waned following World War II. Despite the adverse affects a changing industrial society had on the city during the 1900s, health care, manufacturing and education — both in the Hamilton City School District and at Miami University — are among the area’s top employers. Building restoration and the addition of new public parks and art followed. Today, Hamilton is home to approximately 63,000 residents and covers 22 square miles.
Something old is always new at Sara’s House in Hamilton, a boutique featuring repurposed vintage furniture and accessories made by local artists. Interesting finds include a surveyor’s tripod and a megaphone that have found new life as a floor lamp, and a Victorian carpet bag that’s been transformed into a gnome hat fit for an infant.
“We don’t have a garage and a driveway, but this feels like a neighborhood to me,” Vallandingham said. “The other business owners look out for each other and reach out to each other, we’ll loan each other a power cord or window cleaner… My neighbors are the people who live on this busy street and who own businesses here.”
For Sara and Dave Vallandingham, a live-above, work-below setup wasn’t just a nostalgic idea of city life past: They renovated the building at the corner of Third and High Streets into a family home with their home decor and gift shop downstairs. That space is stocked with vintage pieces both in original form and creatively updated—like golf clubs Sara and Dave’s son Drew retrofitted into bottle openers—as well as jewelry, knit goods, and soaps from local makers. sarashousehamilton.com
Walking into Sara’s House is always a treat as the inventory constantly changes. The warm, inviting store is filled with the fresh scent of locally-sourced candles and soaps, and also features its original tin ceiling. It’s the kind of shop that'd easily be considered a standout in a trendy neighborhood in a big city, and Sara’s House is adding to Hamilton's revitalization by being just that.