Historic Appeal: Granville
In Granville, New England meets the Midwest
Learn more: granvilleoh.com
The group of settlers who started Granville wanted to build a clean, peaceful New England community with tidy residential streets and a tree-lined retail strip. More than two centuries later, it’s kept that historic character intact with 150-year-old houses, artisan shops and postcard-ready Denison University.
Along downtown’s quiet Broadway, local families catch up at sidewalk tables in front of the original Whit’s Frozen Custard and lunchtime favorite Village Coffee Co., then stock up on local produce and cheese during a Saturday morning farmers market. Couples in town for the day wander past homes north and south of Broadway (grab a fact-filled guide to dozens of historic homes from granvilleoh.com), then head a few miles east to watch Sunday afternoon polo matches on Bryn Du Mansion’s 32-acre lawn.
9 a.m. Small-batch roasts at River Road Coffeehouse (935 River Rd.) showcase distinct flavors from origins such as Ethiopia and Costa Rica. Savor a French press and good book on a three-level back patio that overlooks a small lake.
11 a.m. Have a bicycle delivered to your hotel from Granville Bike Rentals & Guided Tours Ltd. (740-504-9769), then tackle the nearby T.J. Evans Trail, which runs roughly 14 flat, straight miles between Johnstown and Newark.
3 p.m. Granville’s mom-and-pop retail strip is perfect for an afternoon stroll. Browse imported glass-beaded necklaces and locally made crafts at Green Velvet (130 E. Broadway) and colorful crochet supplies at Wisp (224 E. Broadway). Nosh a few toffee-crusted Buckeyes at Goumas Candyland (238 E. Broadway), then grab eclectic, industrial-chic patio trimmings at Enjoy Co. (446 E. Broadway).
7 p.m. Brews Cafe (116 E. Broadway) maintains a jaw-dropping selection of 45 taps and 160 bottles ranging from Belgian ales to Ohio’s latest small-batch releases. Soak up the suds with a giant burger (there’s one topped with mac and cheese!), then catch live bands at an open-late speakeasy on the third floor.
Granville’s slow-down-and-savor charm draws a mix of city folk in search of escape, families of Denison students and even nearby farmers, says landscape painter James Young, who crisscrosses the Midwest from his home studio inside Kussmaul Gallery on Broadway. “When you consider the historic nature, the bed-and-breakfasts and having Denison as part of our town,” Young says, “it gives us an advantage for attracting people.”
Its location about 45 minutes east of downtown Columbus means it’s close enough for a long lunch date at a cafe that offers more than 200 beers in an old Masonic hall but far enough for a weekend complete with art festivals and a few nights in a 200-year-old hotel.
Even if you don’t plan to enroll, it’s worth a visit to Denison University, a liberal arts school— known for its theater program—that helps define Granville’s quiet New England charm.
Ascend the perched-on-high campus via President’s Drive on the town’s north side (walk slowly and don’t even try on a bike), then savor sprawling, tree-studded aerial views atop College Hill. After catching your breath, venture inside Swasey Chapel (200 Chapel Dr.)—the school’s red-brick architectural trademark that’s one of 15 Denison buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s adorned with an airy colonnade, tall white steeple and ornate interior with columns and chandeliers. (The Swasey Observatory next door hosts occasional stargazing events.)
On your way back to town, hear students strum guitars on the shady front lawn of Burton Hall (241 W. College St.) and check out manicured green spaces around the Denison Museum (240 W. Broadway), where you might see a few plein-air painters.
When to go: The Granville Art Affair & Wine Festival uncorks June 7 and 8 on the Bryn Du Mansion lawn with work by Ohio artists, small plates from area restaurants and Buckeye wine. granvilleartaffair.com
Where to stay: The Buxton Inn (313 E. Broadway) has hosted three U.S. presidents, inventors such as Henry Ford and, owners say, a few ghosts since opening in 1812 along a quiet section of Granville’s main retail district. Grab a room that opens onto the shady courtyard filled by a fountain and scarlet geraniums and enjoy al fresco Sunday brunch from the house tavern. buxtoninn.com
In Granville, New England meets the Midwest
Get lost in time at Geneva-on-the-Lake
History meets adventure in Marietta
Embrace the simple life in Millersburg
Find a lakeside respite on Kelleys Island