On Potter’s Lane in Granville sits a Georgian-style home with a history that goes back further than that of the United States.

In the late 1700s, Christopher Manwaring, a tanner and politician from New London, Connecticut, built the illustrious 4,500-square-foot house for his family. 

The home hosted Presidents James Madison and Andrew Jackson, and remained standing after an attempted arson by Benedict Arnold in the American Revolution, before being disassembled and put into storage at the University of Connecticut in 1967. In 1995, Jill and Don DeSapri rebuilt the home in Granville, Ohio, where the house is considered one of the oldest in central Ohio

Today, the historic home south of the village off Columbus Road belongs to Scott Snider and Tony Mendoza.

Current owners Scott Snider (left) and Tony Mendoza have tried to honor the history of the house while maintaining the home. Credit: Emmet Anderson

The couple first saw the home — now known as the Manwaring House — in Columbus Monthly Home & Garden Magazine, and then again on Realtor.com

“It had been on the market for a year and a half because it was decorated like a museum. Nobody could see past that,” said Snider. 

Mendoza, a world history major in college, loved the idea of living in a relic from the past. 

“I grew up in LA, so we didn’t have houses like this,” Mendoza said. “For us, we had a 1920 Spanish in the hills of Hollywood and thought that was antique. Then we got here and saw houses from the 1700s.”

Originally, Mendoza and Snider heard a story that the house had burned to the ground when Arnold set several others ablaze during the Revolution, but Snider did some historical research and found that wasn’t the case. 

“One of the town’s people entering the house soon after they left it, extinguished the flames with a barrel of soap,” according to Frances Manwaring Caulkins, who wrote the history of the home in his 1852 book History of New London, Connecticut.

An ‘R’ and an ‘M’ are carved into one of the windowsills in the Manwaring house, credited to one of the children on the original owner. Credit: Emmet Anderson

The house has other imprints of history, such as a carving on a windowsill with the letter ‘R’ and half a letter ‘M.’ They’ve credited this to Robert Manwaring, a son of Christopher who grew up to be a physician.

“The story we were told about, although it was just conjecture, was maybe one of the servants busted him, and he never was able to finish the ‘M,’” Snider said. 

Mendoza and Snider live in the Manwaring House alongside their four dogs, three cats, sixteen chickens, four ducks and three geese. The Potter’s Lane property the house sits on now used to be a sheep grazing pasture, so in tribute, they’ve adorned the yard with sheep sculptures. 

“There’s a responsibility to be good stewards. I mean, if something’s been around that long, I don’t want to be the last tenant,” Snider said. “We’ve done a lot of improvements.”

“We changed nothing historic,” added Mendoza. “We only changed things that were put in afterward. So the house still has every piece of history that it did when we bought it.”

The current owners have decorated the lawn with sheep sculptures to honor the history of the land, which used to be a sheep grazing pasture. Credit: Emmet Anderson

Though some aspects of the home have been modernized — the home has light bulbs, invented a century after the house was built — much of it remains original, including the 18th century hardwood floors found throughout the home. 

The most difficult thing for the homeowners to keep up with has been the exterior maintenance: Mendoza and Snider had to replace the roof after recent severe weather.

The Manwaring House is available to rent through short-term vacation rental sites like Airbnb. The renters range anywhere from Denison parents here for the weekend to history buffs who travel long distances to see the colonial home. 

“Our last guests actually knew more about the house than we did!” Snider recalled. 

“They heard James and Dolley Madison liked to drink a certain type of brandy, so they brought it here and made a toast in the library,” Mendoza said.

Emmet Anderson writes for TheReportingProject.org, the nonprofit news organization of Denison University’s Journalism program, which is supported by generous donations from readers. Sign up for The Reporting Project newsletter here.