Brecksville couple calls home’s heritage ‘serendipitous’

by Sharon Fell

In the picturesque heart of Brecksville nestled along historic Old Highland Drive, a beautiful tale of serendipity, history, and community has unfolded.

The story centers around the home known by the community as the Butler House, which is named after the family who originally owned the property.

According to property records, the home was originally built in 1874 and has been lovingly maintained and updated throughout the generations. This summer brought new owners Justin and Lauren Brubaker-Suttmiller to the home and the couple says they are “thrilled” to carry on the home’s legacy. 

The couple, whose family includes two young daughters, Josie and Kendall, have called Brecksville home for the past six years, initially settling in the Stone’s Throw neighborhood. However, a yearning for more outdoor space and more space to entertain led them to explore new horizons within Brecksville’s city limits.

Their quest for a new home took an unexpected turn earlier this year when they heard whispers from friends and nearby residents, Angie and Mike Satink, about the white house with the amazing wrap-around porch in Old Town possibly going up for sale.

As fate would have it, Justin’s work had recently connected him with a consultant, Taylor Radey (Randall), who had deep ties to this very house. Taylor’s parents, Gayle and Kent Randall, still lived there, and a fortuitous text message from Taylor brought Lauren and Justin to the Randall’s doorstep.

Sitting at the kitchen table, Justin and Lauren said they found themselves immersed in a rich tapestry of history, and the parallel between the two families’ stories was almost like something out of a storybook.

“Twenty-seven years ago, the Randall family had heard rumors about the house’s potential availability,” Justin said, adding that through a mutual connection, they arranged a visit and made an offer on the spot, ultimately closing the deal on July 17, 1995. 

Over the subsequent years, the Randalls expanded the home’s footprint by over 1,200 square feet, connecting it to the converted historic barn garage, and adding an 800-square-foot finished basement.

Notably, the Randalls enhanced the home’s exterior with a picturesque wrap-around porch in 2013 in celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary.

Upon hearing the stories, Lauren and Justin said they were captivated by the house’s history and the memories it held. They made an offer that very day that was accepted by the Randall family. With whirlwind negotiations and a flurry of paperwork, the Brubaker-Suttmillers closed the deal on their dream home on a date that held special significance – July 17- the same day the Randalls closed on the home 28 years prior. Coincidentally, July 17 also happens to be Lauren’s birthday.

The Brubakers attest that among the features that drew them to the home in addition to the new porch was the house’s old-world flare. Though the kitchen has been expanded and updated over the years, the new cabinets had been custom made for the home to match the cabinets that had been original to the residence. Additionally, the upstairs bedroom area where the couple’s daughters now sleep has not been updated and includes a reading nook that both girls adore.

The home also includes an owner’s suite with a modern en suite bath. An office area is a newer addition and is equally appreciated, the couple said.

Another big plus, Justin added, is the property’s large yard, as the home sits on over an acre of land. Its location was also a selling point as the home is within walking distance of the town square at the intersection of state Route 82 and Brecksville Road. The family attests they can even see the top of the Brecksville United Methodist Church on the square from their yard. 

Moving forward

The Butler House, now under the care of the Brubaker-Suttmiller family, stands as a living testament to Brecksville’s history and the enduring spirit of community that binds its residents together.

As it has for more than a century, this charming house on Old Highland Drive continues to be a beacon of warmth, tradition and serendipity for its new custodians. And as the seasons change, so too will the memories and stories that fill the halls of this beloved Brecksville landmark, reminding all who pass by that the past and present are forever intertwined in this tight-knit community.

When asked what the house means to their family Justin couldn’t help but smile.

“Hearing Lauren call it her dream home, and seeing the looks on the girls’ faces the first time they went inside was more than anyone could ever ask for,” he said. “But, knowing that our family gets to have our own small chapter in the enduring narrative of this house and this community is such an honor and a legacy that we embrace.”

Justin and Lauren plan to hold a 150th birthday celebration for the home in 2024 to celebrate the rich history and charm of the Butler House. While they aren’t sure of their plans just yet, many in the community have expressed an interest in seeing the home inside and out, so an open house might be in the works, the couple said. ∞

The Butler House, located on Old Highland Drive, is home to new owners as of this summer who plan to carry out the home’s nearly 150-year-old legacy. Photos by Tia Began.

The Brubaker-Sutmillers, including Justin and Lauren and their daughters Josie and Kendall moved from the Stone’s Throw neighborhood to Old Town in July – coincidentally on the same day the home’s former owners closed on the home 28 years prior.

The family says the home’s picturesque wraparound porch is just one of many features that drew them to the home.

On our cover (photo): July 17 is a notable date in the history books for the Butler House on Old Highland Drive. Not only was it the date the home’s new owners, Lauren and Justin Brubaker-Sutmiller and their two daughters, Josie and Kendall, closed on the home in 2023, but it is the same day the home’s previous owners closed on the home back in 1995. Photo by Tia Began.