Granville, Ohio – Broadway

Main Streets 2017: Ohio

A half hour’s drive east of Columbus, Granville’s East Broadway looks a lot like the main street of a classic New England town — and there’s a reason why.

Granville already had a school, a library and a public square in the very early 1800s when it drew about 150 new settlers from Massachusetts and Connecticut, who then built up the village further in the style they knew and loved.

Yet civilization here is far older than that. A short walk from East Broadway leads to the Alligator Mound, a grass-covered remnant of the Hopewell Native American culture that lived and farmed here in about 200 A.D., along a trading route that stretched from the Great Lakes to Florida.

Today, Granville is a small town best known as the home of Denison University, whose handsome campus is close to the town’s shopping and dining hub. East Broadway is a friendly gathering place, where in the warm weather, students, townspeople and visitors enjoy sidewalk tables along the tree-lined avenue. The Robbins Hunter Museum here is a stately, 1842-built home furnished with decorative arts from 18th and 19th century local families.

You’ll see lots of present-day creativity at the downtown Art Walk on the first Saturday of each month, with gallery exhibits, live music, savory food and even street theater. Every Saturday morning in the summer, the Granville Farmers Market brings more than 60 vendors to the corner of Broadway and North Main (in the winter, the market moves to the Granville Elementary School).

Any time of year, East Broadway offers an array of colorfully fronted shops to poke into and explore. Try the Reader’s Garden Book Store, the Kussmaul Gallery, featuring American crafts and jewelry, and the cooperative gallery Art@43023.

When you’re ready for a snack, Whit’s Frozen Custard is a sweet local institution that has grown into a multi-state franchise. There’s ethnic food downtown too, at Palumbo’s Italian Market, Mai Chau for Vietnamese specialties and Day Y Noche for Mexican-American.

An East Broadway landmark is the Buxton Inn, in continuous operation since 1812 and renovated by preservationist owners. Supposedly, not one, but three ghosts have been encountered here: two long-ago owners, Major Buxton and the “Lady in Blue,” plus a cat. There are a number of stories about the ghosts. Stop in and you might just hear one or two.

All photos courtesy of Gary Chisolm.

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