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Granville, Ohio – Broadway

Main Streets 2017: Ohio

Christmas Candlelight Walking Tour Granville Ohio
Hometown Chirstmas Granville  Ohio
P20 Show Porsche to Ohio Show Granville Ohio
Broadway Street Granville Granville Ohio 1
Bluesfest Granville  Ohio 2
Christmas Candlelight Walking Tour Granville Ohio Hometown Chirstmas Granville  Ohio P20 Show Porsche to Ohio Show Granville Ohio Broadway Street Granville Granville Ohio 1 Bluesfest Granville  Ohio 2

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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Oberlin, Ohio – Main Street

Main Streets 2016: Ohio

Main Street encompasses much of what makes Oberlin such an inviting place. Bisecting this northern Ohio town’s central business district, Main Street runs up one side of Tappan Square, the downtown gathering spot, and glides past the edge of Oberlin College. Along the way, it provides a home for the city’s vital business community, a place for recreation and reflection, and space for the arts and history. That’s all part of what landed Oberlin on Ohio Magazine’s list of “Ohio’s Best Hometowns.”

This community was founded in 1833 by two Presbyterian ministers, who envisioned it as a haven for people with strong Christian morals in what was then the nation’s unruly Western frontier. After its initial founding as a missionary school, Oberlin College became the country’s first institution of higher learning to admit both women and African-American students. By the mid-19th century, the town had become a hotbed of the anti-slavery abolitionist movement.

Main Street today reflects much of that history, with its eclectic mix of shops and galleries housed in historic landmarks and architecturally significant buildings. South and North Main streets meet by Tappan Square, a National Historic Landmark that was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and John Charles Olmsted.

Tappan Square has been witness to many of the events in Oberlin’s past and is now the site of concerts, festivals, vigils, the college’s commencement, and its summer concert series. Music is a big part of life in this community: Oberlin College is home to the nation’s oldest continuously operating conservatory, and has 238 Steinway grand pianos on campus.

Across from Tappan Square is the Allen Memorial Art Museum, known as one of the best college art museums in the country. Art is also an important part of life in Oberlin, and the Fireland Association for the Visual Arts on South Main Street houses galleries and a craft shop.

With its mingling of historic Midwestern architecture, small-town shops, art galleries, antique stores, cafes and eateries, Oberlin’s Main Street is a fitting centerpiece for this landmark American community: welcoming, creative and proud of its place in American culture and history.

All photos courtesy of Oberlin Business Partnership

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