Kirk Denton and Greg Wigle opened Wren’s Nest in early March as a co-working space in Middletown. Denton recently spoke with The News-Post to share more about his business and the history behind the historic building.
What made you want to open a co-working space in Middletown?
We have had the building here that’s in the center of town for 20 years, it’s on the National Register. We found that there was a need in Middletown and Middletown valley for meeting spaces, book clubs, artist groups and places to show art as well as a place for people to work. It’s sort of a hybrid of work space and a meeting space.
How would you describe the decor and why did you choose that theme?
We didn’t choose the theme, the building spoke to us. The building was built in 1829 and the finishes in the house side of the building, there’s a house side and a store side, are original from 1829. We basically just took off a layer or two of wallpaper and the original finishes were there. Everyone who comes through here appreciates that history. The big room that we have upstairs, which is Rudy’s Hall, is signed in four or five places by plasters who worked on the building, one in 1849 and one in 1897. When we redid part of his space, we left as much original as possible.
Can you briefly describe some of the history of the building?
It’s about 12,000 square feet. The building was built right when the National Road was starting to be built from Frederick to Cumberland. A man named Samuel Harbaugh built the building with his brother-in-law whose name was George Stonebraker as a store and a house, and they’re attached. It was a hospital during the Civil War, it was Middletown’s first library and it had a hat shop in it at one point. It was Rudy’s Hall from about 1850 to 1890 and that was where they put on plays and shows. The town of Middletown used it as their town hall for a while, in fact Samuel Harbaugh was the first town clerk.
The store was ransacked by Jubal Early, and during the Civil War the man who owned it paid the ransom for Middletown.
We have two rooms set up as board rooms and we have a big hall which is Rudy’s Hall. We have smaller rooms that are perfect for meeting groups and we have an exterior courtyard and a large property in the back that’s available for bigger functions.
How did you come up with the name of the co-working space?
That is actually the name of the property holding company that we owned and it was named after our dog. Our first pug was Wren, and when we moved to Frederick County 30 years ago, we decided that would be a good name for our property holding company.