It was the setting of a few Thanksgiving and Easter buffets with my grandparents, dinner with my childhood hero before my CSG prom in 1987, an October 1999 presentation I gave as chair of the Ohio Bicentennial Literary Committee, and countless Saturday lunches of open-faced cheddar bacon sirloin burgers with steak fries.
And then it closed in August 2014. I mourned its bran muffins and mini-loaves of warm iced raisin bread with whipped honey butter, its holiday craft shows and gingerbread house displays, its fireplaces and carved woodwork, and its antique regulator clock in the lobby that kept standard time.
On May 8, the Granville Inn re-opened after a $9 million makeover. Now, this special place is better than ever.
In 1923, John Sutphin Jones, a successful executive in the coal and railroad industries, commissioned noted Columbus architect Frank Packard to design a Jacobethan Revival building on the site of the former Granville Female College on East Broadway Street in Granville. The half-timber and sandstone structure was built from stone quarried at Jones’ nearby estate, Bryn Du. The Granville Inn opened on June 26, 1924 and became a popular central Ohio destination for wedding receptions and other special events.
Like many other restaurants, the Granville Inn was hit hard by the 2008 recession. It did everything it could to survive. Lunch service was eliminated, the menu was pared back, and staffing was cut. In September 2013, Denison University purchased the inn out of receivership for $1.15 million and restored it.
The building was gutted, but the carved hardwood paneling in the entryway, main hallways and dining rooms were covered and restored. My favorite regulator clocks are still ticking away in the lobby.
New heating and cooling systems, ductwork, insulation, copper gutters and downspouts were installed. A new roof was fashioned from 4,000 pieces of slate. Exterior stucco and battens were restored, and the sandstone exterior was cleaned. The awning of the three-season room off the former pub was removed, creating a spacious open-air patio.
Guest rooms were updated with new bathrooms, flooring, wall coverings, lighting and furnishings. A new bar, kitchens and an elevator were added. Public spaces, dining and meeting rooms were also updated with new furnishings. Denison archival photographs and memorabilia decorate public spaces. Even the new ladies’ room on the first floor is a swanky affair.
The inn’s former garage, located in a 19th-century carriage house…
is now a meeting space, with guest rooms above. The old driveway and delivery area leading up to the space is now an attractive courtyard.
The third-floor attic — previously used to store documents, paintings, furniture and other inn artifacts — was repurposed into nine new guest rooms that exude comfort and class. Slate blue and brown is my new favorite color scheme.
The old pub is now the Oak Room, an upscale dining room with a working fireplace and a menu that includes fish, chicken, lamb, Steak Dianne, filet mignon, lobster bisque, chilled white asparagus, and other elegant fare.
The former dining room is now known as The Tavern at the Inn. Enter from the lobby through the original doors fitted with new fleur-de-lis glass panels, sit down in the same big red chairs, and order the Granville Inn’s classic French onion soup, salads like the original Lazarus Chintz Room chicken salad, hot entrees such as beer-battered cod and short ribs, and sandwiches served with house-made potato chips, French fries, slow-cooked baked beans or a side salad of the day. Local craft beer, wine and signature cocktails are available from a new U-shaped bar. Whit’s Signature Raisin Bread Frozen Custard, only available at the Granville Inn, looks like a tasty tribute to the inn’s iced raisin bread.
The cornbread crusted catfish Po Boy on a buttered bun from Lucky Cat Farm in Pataskala, together with the hand-formed, chargrilled ground beef patty topped with Mayfield Road smoked gouda and crisp bacon on a house-made bun, were delicious. I’m ready to go back and try more.
The Granville Inn was the perfect place to celebrate my parents’ 47th wedding anniversary.
They were married on May 30, 1968.