On June 26, 1924, there were thousands of people gathered along Broadway in Granville to mark the dedication and opening of the Granville Inn.

This much anticipated project, at the command of local coal magnate John Sutphin Jones, was a way for him to reduce the guest traffic at his country house — the Bryn Du Mansion east of the village — as he and his second wife Alice raised their two young daughters. 

Jones spent about $600,000 to build The Granville Inn, which adjusted for inflation comes to about $11,000,000. That sum, interestingly, is about what Denison University has put into today’s hostelry, paying $1.15 million in 2013 to purchase it out of foreclosure, and another $9 million to renovate it.

Between Jones and Denison, the Inn has been held by a variety of owners, but it is Sutphin Jones’ daughter Sallie Jones Sexton whose management of the facility has become legend in Granville. People still tell stories of the jingling spurs she wore — the sound of which cautioned employees to her arrival after riding her beloved horses. The sharp edges of the spurs snagged carpeting in the hallways as she strode up and down the corridors checking on rooms.

By all accounts she had more passion for inn keeping than she had resources to maintain the property, and lost the Inn to a sheriff’s sale in 1976. Commercially managed for decades, deferred maintenance was catching up with the building and threatened its existence until Denison made the decision to buy and restore it.

Frank Packard is a legendary name in Midwestern architecture, and it is possible that The Granville Inn was his last work. Packard died unexpectedly eight months before the dedication, at the age of 57. His hand is seen at work all over central Ohio, in Licking County, and most certainly in Granville and on the Denison campus.

Working much of his life with partner Joseph Yost, the tangle of identifying which projects are whose is like picking out which Beatles songs are Paul McCartney’s or John Lennon’s. Doane Academy and Barney-Davis are Yost & Packard productions, with Doane echoing their work on the Ohio State campus in the landmark Orton Hall; Yost designed the historic Old Jail in nearby Newark, and it’s unclear if the old YMCA Building a few blocks away was a joint project or not.

The Granville Inn, though, like the Granville Public Library across Broadway and a block west, is entirely the hand of Frank Packard. Yost left for New York City and larger horizons in 1900, though his nephew Joel McCarty would design Denison’s Beth Eden in 1901. In the last year of Packard’s life, it is clear from Tony Lisska’s 2008 review of the records, the Granville Public Library and the Granville Inn were among the last projects he designed, with the library building completed in 1925, and Jones’s money behind both.

A self-described “Jacobean Revival” manor house replica, Packard was asked by Jones to create a classic English inn and tavern, even though the United States was in the midst of Prohibition. Liquor would not be served at the bar until the late 1970s, but early blueprints from Packard’s office called the project “Ye Purple Pig Tavern,” perhaps looking to the future in an ironic tone. The half-timbered stone and slate exterior also contrasted nicely with the 1813 frame Buxton Inn directly across the street; the design also took the last remaining building from the Granville Female College — the carriage house — and adapted it into the whole, with layers of actual community history beneath the replicated history of Olde England facing passers-by.

What effect was Jones looking for in his intentions for the Inn, other than to keep guests out from underfoot at his country estate? All we know for sure is that he asked Frank Packard to build something well beyond basic needs, to create a sort of dream house as a hotel which could transport weary travelers to a different place for rest and relaxation.

Packard never saw The Granville Inn completed, and Jones would pass on less than three years later. Their shared work in the Bryn Du Mansion, The Granville Inn, and at the Granville Public Library would not only outlive both of them, but these stately anchors in the community would inspire the dreams and aspirations of many, as they still do today.

Jeff Gill is a pastor, a mediator and a freelance writer in Granville, Ohio.