Granville was founded in 1805 by New Englanders from Granville, Massachusetts and Granby, Connecticut, who sought more fertile farmland. Before leaving New England, the Village design was planned in great detail using the traditional New England town center. Advance parties came westward early in 1805 to plant corn for the fall harvest and to erect a mill for sawing lumber and grinding corn. They also laid out the farm and village plats.
The Village began to prosper and achieved early maturity in the first part of the 19th century. The Ohio Canal (Cleveland to Portsmouth) was begun in 1825 and passed through Licking County several miles east of Granville. A feeder canal was constructed and the commerce that resulted made Granville a thriving community.
Educational institutions have played an important role in the development of the Village of Granville. Academies and colleges were founded and flourished; eventually becoming an important business for the Village. The Granville Literary and Theological Institution (1831) later became Granville College (1845) and then Denison University (1856), one of the outstanding private liberal arts colleges in the country.
In 1880, the Ohio Central Railroad came to Granville with the interurban street railway ten years later connecting the Village to nearby Newark.
In 1905, John Sutphin Jones, a coal and railroad magnate, bought what is now Bryn Du Mansion and large tracts of surrounding land. He then commissioned Donald Ross to design and build the Granville Golf Course on part of his vast holdings. Ross, called a "virtuoso" in golf course design, designed over 500 golf courses during the early 1900's. Though he did not personally supervise the building of all of them, it is recorded that he was a frequent guest at Jones' Bryn Du manor during the construction of the Granville course.
In 1923 Jones commissioned the construction of The Granville Inn in the Jacobethan Revival style on the site of the Granville Female College, which had closed its doors in 1898. The stone and half-timber structure was designed by Frank L. Packard, a prominent Columbus architect. All the sandstone was quarried at Jones' nearby estate, Bryn Du.
While most of the Granville Female College was torn down for the Inn, a gymnasium building with classrooms built by the college’s last president, Dr. William Kerr, was left standing, renovated, and is today a part of the Inn and connected to the main structure, housing a garage with guest rooms on the second floor. According to newspapers of the time period, the Inn’s opening on June 26, 1924 was attended by as many as five thousand people.
Jones died in 1927 and his daughter, Sallie Jones Sexton, inherited the property, living at Bryn Du while managing the farm and the Granville Inn. Sallie became a local legend, famous for breeding and training show horses, and for her vivid personality and colorful language. It was Sallie’s storied management style that led the estate into bankruptcy, and in 1976 Granville residents Bob and Joan Kent purchased the Inn and Golf Course at Sheriff's Sale. The Kents undertook a major renovation and modernization of the Inn's guest rooms, meeting and dining facilities.
In November, 2013 The Granville Inn was acquired by Denison University. A complete restoration of this historic inn is underway and should be completed by April 2015.
Our management team strives to maintain the sense of history and tradition that have been hallmarks of the Granville Inn for over ninety years. The Inn continues to be a vital cornerstone of the Granville community and a destination for travelers and diners worldwide. The Inn has garnered many accolades, including “Best New Restaurant” by Columbus Monthly magazine, Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and One of "Columbus' Most Romantic Restaurants" as well as many Open Table Awards.