The History of the Granville Inn
John Sutphin Jones was born in Washington Court House in 1848, the son of William and Elizabeth Morris Jones. He was educated in public schools and from 1870-1888 he was in the railroad business as an operator, conductor, trainmaster and superintendent. By 1888, he was also in the coal business as President of the Jones & Adams Company, operating coal mines in West Virginia, Ohio and Illinois, and coal docks on the Great Lakes, with general offices in Chicago. He later served as president of the National Hocking Coal Company, and was connected with the Little Kanawha Syndicate, building branch railroads and acquiring coal properties in West Virginia. In later years, he served as the head of the Naples Improvement Company and helped develop that Florida community. His beachfront Naples “cottage” built in 1922 recently sold for $7 million.
A resident of Chicago beginning in 1887, he was a 32° Mason and a member of many clubs and fraternal organizations. His office was in the Old Colony Building, his City Residence was at the Union League Club and his Country Residence was Monomoy Place in Granville, Ohio. Monomoy Place was built as the private residence of Dr. Alfred K. Follett and was acquired by John Sutphin Jones who had married Follett’s daughter, Sarah Fedelia Follett in 1884. She had been a teacher of oil and watercolor painting at the Granville Female College beginning in 1880. Denison bought the home in 1935 to use as temporary housing for women until more dormitories could be built on the upper campus. It was also used as a temporary fraternity house. Monomoy Annex was the original carriage house to Monomoy and was moved to face Mulberry St. in the late 1930’s and remodeled for use as faculty housing. Denison later closed Monomoy House and eventually it was renovated for use as the President’s home. Robert Good, who served as Denison’s President from 1976-84, was the first President to live in the house.
In 1905 Jones purchased the Henry D. Wright estate, which was built in 1865, along with the 600+ acres surrounding it. He commissioned Columbus architect Frank Packard to enlarge and remodel the home and renamed it Bryn Du, Welsh for “black hill”. Sarah Follett Jones died in 1910 and Jones remarried. His second wife was Alice Baxter of Chicago. It was this marriage that produced his two daughters, Sarah Jane (better known as Sallie) and Alice Virginia.
Sallie was born in 1912 at Bryn Du. She grew up riding the ponies from her father’s mines. While most mine ponies were kept underground at the time, where they eventually went blind, Sallie’s father kept his above ground and brought the best ones home for her to ride. At 14, she left for boarding school at Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, where she rode on the school equestrian team and where horses became an integral part of her life.
Meanwhile, at home, the Bryn Du estate hosted a who’s who of period greats, with Paderewski and Rachmaninoff performed on the home’s Steinways, where Heifetz and Stern played the violin and Patrice Munsel and Leontyne Price entertained guests. Presidents Taft, Harding and Coolidge all dined there, and the library is where Lillian Gish and Katherine Cornell once relaxed over coffee.
In 1922, Jones entered into a development pact with the Village of Granville to build the Granville Inn and Golf Course; included as part of the agreement was the construction of a sanitary sewer system. Jones commissioned the construction of the Granville Inn in the Jacobethan Revival style on the site of the Granville Female College, which had closed its doors in 1898. The stone and halftimber structure was also designed by Frank Packard; all the sandstone for the Inn was quarried at Bryn Du.
While most of the Granville Female College was torn down for the Inn, the gymnasium building with classrooms built by the college’s last president, Dr. William Kerr, was left standing, renovated, and was later connected to the main structure, housing three garages with guest rooms on the second floor.
According to newspapers of the time period, the Inn’s opening on June 26, 1924 was a grand celebration attended by as many as five thousand guests who enjoying a buffet on the lawn, orchestral music, and dancing under the stars. Gentlemen also enjoyed a private billiards and smoking room located on the lower level (now the Wales Room).
Jones then commissioned Donald Ross to design and build the Granville Golf Course. Ross, known as a virtuoso in golf course design, laid out over 500 golf courses during the early 1900s. Though he did not personally supervise the building of all of them, it is recorded that he was a frequent guest at Bryn Du during the construction of the Granville course.
At the time of Jones‘ death in 1927, the estate was administered by Chester Cook of Columbus, a lifelong friend and Jones’ associate in the mining business. Under his able care the farm prospered. Crops were rotated, fences and buildings kept in good repair. An outstanding dairy herd known for the fine quality of its milk was also part of the operation. The farm had a capable manager in John White and an efficient maintenance manager in Henry Dyker, both having been associated with Jones in business.
Alice May Baxter Jones died in 1931. Sallie graduated summa cum laude from Bryn Mawr College in 1934 and upon her graduation, she was offered a job with Time magazine. By that point in her life, both of her parents had passed away and she missed the farm. She returned to Bryn Du in order to manage the family’s cattle operation.
In 1937, Sallie married James Joseph Sexton, Jr. of Bexley. While they seemed to have a lot of fun for a while, they divorced 1939 and Sallie never re-married.
When Chester Cook died, the Court appointed Colonel Carlton Dargusch, an attorney from Columbus, as the trustee of the estate. He was a good friend of Sallie’s and was suggested by her. Later, she took over personal management of the estate. In addition, the fortunes of the Sunday Creek Coal Company were in decline.
John White, the farm manager, retired and not long afterward Henry Dyker died. Neither was replaced. In the 1950s, Sallie sold her family’s Hereford herds in order to concentrate on the Granville Inn and Golf Course, as well her horses. Her primary interests were in breeding and showing hunters along with the production of Playhouse on the Green which she helped found in 1955 near Delaware, Ohio.
As the years went on, Sallie began racking up championship after championship on the outside courses that were popular at the time. She became a licensed hunter and jumper judge the moment the American Horse Show Association began licensing in the 1930s, and she was involved with the local Ohio hunt scene, serving as the master of the Headley Hunt in Columbus.
She also racked up an astounding amount of debt, and in 1976 was forced to liquidate the contents of Bryn Du in advance of Sheriff’s Sale. The estate sale emptied her ancestral home of its antique furniture, Oriental rugs, paintings, crystal, china, and even her personal trophies. The three-day sale brought in $250,000 to counter Sallie’s debts, a total that exceeded $2 million at the worst of her financial crisis. In addition, The Sunday Creek Coal Company, which Sallie took over in 1959 and was at one time one of the largest land owners in the state, had by then dissolved.
Sallie’s half of the 600-acre Bryn Du Farm including the mansion, outbuildings, and land sold at sheriff’s auction for $785,000. The Granville Inn sold for $190,000. After the sale, Sallie moved to her 17-acre horse farm in Loudoun, Virginia. She won her final championship in 1987 and passed away in 1998, ranked as one of the top 50 horsemen of the century.
Bob Kent, Granville resident and Denison graduate, was the buyer of both the Inn and Golf Course at Sheriff’s Sale and the Kents undertook a huge modernization project at that time.
The Inn has been modified several times during its 90 years. In the 1950s, an addition connecting the Inn to the old building was constructed and housed management offices and a prep kitchen, plus mechanical rooms and storerooms on the lower level. The Dining Portico (now the Denison Hall) was covered at the same time. Later, the Great Hall became the main Dining Room. The former Dining Room became one of seven banquet rooms (now Gallery 1831). The front patio was covered with a seasonal awning which became permanent after 2003. Six hotel rooms were combined into three suites. And of course in the 1970s when Granville finally approved the sale of liquor, a portion of the dining room became the Pub.
In the 1980s, the Great Hall was expanded and the meeting rooms on the lower level were modernized. In 2010 the Chef’s Table Wine Shop opened in the location of the old bakery.
The future of the Granville Inn is brighter than ever with the purchase in November 2013 by Denison University. The Inn underwent a massive combination historic restoration and renovation and reopened in May, 2015. The renovation included adding an entirely new restaurant kitchen plus a catering kitchen, 1,200 square feet of additional event space in the former garages, full laundry facilities, nine additional hotel rooms, elevator, enhanced landscaping, improved accessibility, and additional parking.
A special thank you to Janet Procida and the Granville Historical Society for assisting in our research and adding to the Inn’s extensive collection of historic photos and advertising materials.