|Definition: In 1812, Orrin Granger, a pioneer from Granville, Massachusetts built The Tavern on land that was purchased in 1806.|
In 1812, Orrin Granger, a pioneer from Granville, Massachusetts built "The Tavern" on land that was purchased in 1806. That tavern, now known as "The Buxton Inn" has been operated continuously since that date in 1812. It was long and typical of the times - early American. It had a ballroom, a stagecoach court, a dining room ...all the fixings demanded by society in 1812.
The Inn operated as Granville's first post office, and as a stagecoach stop on the line between Columbus and Newark. The coach drivers were housed in the original cellar with its hewn beams, stone fireplace, and stone walls.
The cellar today still carries the feeling of those early years when the drivers cooked their meals in the great open fireplace and slept there on beds of straw.
Orrin Granger was a friend and close acquaintance of General (and later President) William H. Harrison who was the first of three presidents and one of many "celebrities" who would patronize the Buxton. An early history book recounts that in a display of cheerful bravado, Harrison rode his horse up the courtyard steps into the Buxton's ballroom where a party was underway.
The tavern thrived and it changed hands in 1818 after Orrin Granger's death. It changed ownership several times over the succeeding years but never closed due to its popularity. The building changed some in the early years. In 1829, an east wing was added and in 1851, a two story wing was added to the building forming a U-shaped building with a center courtyard.
In 1858 or 1859, ownership finally started to stabilize when the inn was purchased by James W. Dilley and renamed "The Dilley House". It remained so until the property was sold to Major Buxton in 1865.
One of the longest periods of ownership that galvanized the inn's reputation for hospitality and gave its current name was that of Major Horton Buxton and his wife. The well-ordered house, the excellent cuisine, the home-like atmosphere, with Major Buxton the quiet attentive landlord and Mrs. Buxton, the cordial and gracious landlady, attracted many guests, especially Denison students, many of whom were patrons of the house during their whole college life. Many returned after college to renew acquaintances, to talk over past experiences, and to attest to the rare charm of the old hostelry.
After retiring from a glamorous career as a light opera singer, Newark-born Bonnie Bounell took over operation of the Buxton Inn. Assisted by Miss Nell Schoeller, she operated the inn in the time-honored tradition of the Buxtons. She even kept a friendly cat named after the previous innkeeper "Major Buxton" who was a favorite of the inn's guests. Nell Schoeller carried on as innkeeper after Mrs. Bounell's death in 1960.
Time and the elements had taken their toll on the structure by the beginning of the 1970's. The Buxton Inn building had fallen on tough times and there was talk of razing the old structure to create parking. Granville preservationist Robbins Hunter discussed the prospect of saving the inn with friends Orville and Audrey Orr. After the Orrs shared their restoration plans with Nell Schoeller, she agreed to sell the inn. The Orrs and their two daughters Melanie and Amy became the keepers of the inn and embarked on a long labor of love to restore the structure to its former glory. Over the years, they purchased adjacent historic buildings to create a one-of-a-kind complex that would make Orrin Granger, Major Buxton, and Bonnie Bounell extremely pleased that the proud tradition and legacy of the Buxton Inn and Tavern is secure and thriving well in the 21st century.
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