Granville is a quaint, New England-style community located in Licking County (east central Ohio) along the western edge of the Appalachian Plateau. It is the home of Denison University. The Village has a permanent population of 3500 and a total population of 5600 when the college students are in session.
Granville was settled by New Englanders from Granville, Massachusetts and Granby, Connecticut (neighboring New England communities), who were interested in moving west to find more fertile farmland. Both communities were represented in a scouting party that was sent to Ohio to identify and evaluate property for future settlement. The returning party recommended the purchase of land in what would become Granville Township and the Licking Company was formed in 1804 with 107 subscribers to purchase more than 29,000 acres of land.
Advance parties came westward early in 1805 to survey and map the site for the Village, 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. Before leaving New England, the layout of the Village was planned in great detail and based on the traditional New England town center. The company planned a public square, a school, library, burying ground, and property for the support of churches. In November and December of 1805, some 150 settlers arrived from New England in ox-drawn wagons and built temporary shelters on the designated public square.
The settlement at Granville quickly took on the character of a village as permanent buildings, constructed in the styles common in New England during the period, appeared along the regular grid pattern of streets. A number of buildings from the first decades of Granville's history survive today, especially some of the houses, St. Luke's church, and the Buxton Inn, all along Broadway.
The Influence of the Canal System
The Village of Granville and the surrounding township continued to grow, although at a relatively slow pace. In 1825, the Ohio Legislature authorized the construction of a canal system joining Lake Erie to the Ohio River. One section of the canal would use the valley of the Licking River and would transform the area known as the "Great Swamp" into a reservoir for the canal, with the reservoir to become later known as Buckeye Lake. Granville businessmen seized upon the opportunity of the canal passing through the center of Newark to create a feeder canal into Granville. The Granville feeder canal was finished in 1833, which allowed Granville to send and receive shipments from the East Coast and New Orleans, which meant that the isolation of the pioneer era had ended.
The Influence of Education
Educational institutions also prospered and eventually became the Village's main business. Granville was the home to five schools in the early 1830s. Two of them, the Granville Female Seminary and the Granville Literary and Theological Institution, were both located in the area west of the Village green. The Granville Literary and Theological Institution (1831) later became Granville College (1845) and then Denison University (1856). It is now one of the premiere private liberal arts colleges in the nation. It's historic campus is included in the Granville Historic District that is listed on the National Register.
Granville has retained its small town charm and is characterized by quaint, locally-owned retail shops, historic homes and churches, tree-lined boulevards, and stately buildings located on College Hill.It has maintained its ties to the past, preserving its heritage through the establishment of an historic district that includes the downtown business area. Over 100 buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.