Just as the Buxton Inn has been an anchor in Licking County for over a hundred years, the Schilling Family and Urban Restorations have been anchored by a Heartland Bank relationship dating back to the handshake-era of the 70’s.
Robert (Bob) Schilling and his wife, Linda, started their business on a prayer. With a son and two daughters to provide for, Bob and Linda entered the property management market with nothing but their real-world experience, their faith and the support of a small community bank known as The Croton Banking Company. Their first investment property located on Miller Avenue was an 8-unit complex located in a depressed neighborhood. This was the Schilling family’s first venture and a challenging project for a very young family.
It was a handshake deal with a bank that was merely two offices strong. It was also the late 70’s, and this two-branch bank called The Croton Banking Company had two very small offices in two very small towns in rural Licking County, Ohio – not necessarily a banking metropolis or commercial anchor of the Central Ohio area. This handshake deal, however, would result in a successful real estate development company, and The Croton Banking Company would later become an immensely successful community bank, known as Heartland Bank. The handshake relationship remains today, along with a partnership providing endless possibilities.
“Heartland has been easy to work with. They have faith in our projects. We don’t need to worry about a loan being approved because they understand how we operate and our business model,” admitted Bob as he recalled the stages of growth for his family’s business. After their initial investment and remodel on Miller Avenue, Urban Restorations would go on to undertake new builds and many additional renovations including a drug rehabilitation center, mentally handicapped facility, group-housing facilities, low-income and historic tax credit buildings.
This success was not due to Bob alone. Linda was involved from the beginning – keeping the books and raising the family which includes Nicholas Schilling, Jennifer Valenzuela and Adrienne Molnar. Nicholas was the first to join the team, even though all three had been toted from jobsite to jobsite, starting at the bottom and working his way up to controller. Later, Jennifer, Adrienne and a son-in-law, Julio Valenzuela, and a daughter-in-law, Eileen Schilling, would also add their innate, unique talents. Bob and Linda’s prayer was answered with those talents, and Bob shared, “One thing we believe in is entrepreneurial spirit. Everybody has contributed and adds to the business in a positive way. We are now a large property management company including commercial property and condominium conversion sales, historic preservations and low-income restorations.”
Historic preservation, with the purchase of the Buxton Inn in Granville, has become a significant segment of the Urban Restorations umbrella. Built in 1812, the Buxton Inn anchors the efforts of the Schilling family, and with Jennifer at the helm, this intriguing inn promises to provide history and stories far into the future. The inn not only offers 26 guest rooms in an unconventional layout consisting of a main house and four historic surrounding homes, there are also four dining rooms and a microbrew tavern.
In 2018, the inn and Urban Restorations received the Preservation Merit Award from the State of Ohio Historic Preservation Office. The award highlights the efforts of the Schilling family and the previous owners, Orville and Audrey Orr, for their conservation contributions and continuing historical commitment. Bob even continues to preserve the history of the haunting of the Buxton Inn as he recounted his and his son-in-law’s experience with the ghostly presence that is part of the history and mystery of the inn. “She was dressed in period clothing from the 1800’s and had deep lines in her face…the kind people of that time had from hard work and older age. I was outside in front of the Buxton Inn with my son-in-law, and we both saw her standing on the sidewalk in front of us,” added Bob in a very matter-of-fact style.
As a result of a nearly 40-year relationship with Heartland Bank, when Bob needed financing in 2014 to purchase the Buxton Inn, Heartland Bank was onboard, ghosts and all. “Heartland Bank and our family business share the same philosophy – money matters, but so does family and faith.”