- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2007

The charms of tiny Middletown which boasts its own professional theater, a potato chip factory and Civil War battlefield are being discovered by new home buyers and visitors.

I think this will be the next area of growth, says Deborah Matthews, a Realtor with ERA Oakcrest Realty Inc. in Winchester.

While nearby Stephens City has grown phenomenally in the last three years, Middletown, despite its proximity to Interstates 66 and 81, remains relatively undiscovered, she says.

Its 2003 population the most current data available was 1,058.

There’s a lot of land there, says Mrs. Matthews, a Virginia native who has sold real estate in the area for seven years.

A Web search of available homes in Middletown, about 12 miles south of Winchester, yields numerous listings in Chimney Hills Estates, developed by Dan Ryan Builders Inc.: from a four-bedroom, three full-bathroom home for $595,000, to a $150,000 piece of land for development.

Yet a real estate agent who asked not to be identified says the high number of vacant new homes has led builders to give pink slips to a lot of different contractors who would otherwise be tiling, painting and landscaping properties.

Other offerings in Middletown include a three-bedroom, two-bath home for $259,900 and a two-bedroom, single-bath home for $195,000.

Only one house sold in all of Middletown in the month of November, a property in the $400,000 range. At year’s end, there were 42 active listings, most between $450,000 and $600,000.

Most of the properties I sell are in the $200,000 to $300,000 range, Mrs. Matthews says. We do a lot of split foyers, typically around $300,000. They’re very economical, and you get more square footage.

Among Middletown’s intriguing sites are the Wayside Theater, whose 2007 productions include Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, and the Belle Grove Plantation, an 18th-century grain and livestock farm where President James Madison’s sister Nelly lived with her husband, Major Isaac Hite.

There’s also the Middletown campus of the Lord Fairfax Community College and the Route 11 Potato Chips plant and store, which has been in Middletown since 1992 at the northern end of the Cedar Creek Battlefield.

However, the manufacturing facility’s days here are numbered, according to founder Sarah Cohen, whose family also owns the Tabard Inn in Washington. Route 11 is moving that part of the business south to New Market, Va., perhaps as soon as summer.

It is seeking to retain a retail presence in Middletown, however.

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