History of Bryn Du Woods
The "Moundbuilders" Were Here First
Bryn Du Woods was created from land once roamed by the prehistoric culture known as the Hopewell Indians. Historians have called these people the Moundbuilders because their lives were surrounded by and dominated by the earthen mounds. To this day one can only speculate as to what purpose they served. No one knows the whole story of this bygone culture or what caused its demise, but it did exist and its people lived out their lives on and around the Alligator Mound of Bryn Du Woods, a site that has been set aside and preserved in perpetuity at the end of Bryn Du Drive.
More recently this area was significantly affected by men named Jones. John Jones and his wife and three children arrived in
1800. He built his cabin to the east of today's Bryn Du Woods, and this became the focal point of hospitality for those
traveling through this area for the next three or four years.
Our Neighborhood's Welsh Heritage
A large Welsh contingent from Pennsylvania arrived in the fall of 1802. It is these early settlers that gave us the Welsh roots
that still survive in local descendants and place names. Bryn Du means black hills and it seemed fitting to retain this reminder of the Welsh influences. To carry on the tradition all the streets within Bryn Du Woods have also been given Welsh names. Glyn Tawel, quiet valley; Trem Pell, distant view; Derwen Del, pretty oak; Merywen Circle, juniper circle; Bedwen Bach Lane., little birch; Onnen Court., ash court; Colomen Gwen Circle., smiling dove; Carreg Cain, elegant stone; Gwennol Lane, swallow lane.
In 1805 a group of New Englanders called themselves The Licking Land Company migrated to these hills and valleys. This group came from Granville, Massachusetts and gave this township and village its name.
One hundred years later, in 1905, John Sutphin Jones (not related to the aforementioned Jones), a coal and railroad magnate, bought what is now Bryn Du Mansion and subsequently large tracts of surrounding land. It is he who commissioned Donald Ross to design and build the Granville Golf Course on part of his vast holdings. Donald Ross, called a "virtuoso" in golf course design, designed over 500 golf courses during the early 1900's. Though he did not personally supervise the building of all of them, it is recorded that he was a frequent guest at Jones' Bryn Du manor during the construction of the Granville course. It is interesting to note that since 1925, when the course opened, is has had only four professionals heading its operation: Alex Murray, imported from the Royal Dornoch in Scotland; William Campbell, also from Scotland; and then in 1962 Phil Stockdale, who had been Campbell's assistant. Since 2000, the director of golf has been Rodney Butt who had been Stockdale's assistant.
J.S. Jones was also responsible for adding the third floor ballroom to Monomoy, his town house; and building the Granville Inn, using the architectural services of Frank Packard, who had overseen the remodeling of the Bryn Du manor house.
All of J.S. Jones' additions to Granville are here today and each is a vital part of the community. The Monomoy House has been renovated and houses the president of Denison University. The Granville Inn is a thriving hostelry of nationwide reputation with 28 sleeping rooms, an excellent restaurant, and facilities for all kinds of parties and seminars. The golf course continues to be one of the finest public courses in the land. Today the Bryn Du Mansion belongs to the Village of Granville and is being modified to serve the social and recreational needs of the community.
The Development of Bryn Du Woods
Almost all of the property that went into the creation of the Bryn Du Woods subdivision and the Granville Golf Course at
one time was inherited by Sally Jones Sexton, daughter of J.S. Jones. She was raised in the Bryn Du Mansion located on
the corner of Newark/Granville Road and Jones Road.
She sold the property comprising the Granville Golf Course to Sam Fontas, a developer from Columbus, Ohio, in the late
1970's. Fontas filed a development plan with the Granville Township which would permit about 300 residential home sites.
That approval was granted, but Fontas never followed through with the development and in two years the development permit lapsed.
In the summer of 1976 the Bryn Du Mansion and the surrounding 285 acres, owned by Sally Jones Sexton, were put on the auction block by the Licking County Sheriff due to foreclosure for unpaid debts. It was purchased at the auction by William Wright, a farmer from Croton, Ohio. Wright farmed the property and in 1984 converted the Mansion into an upscale restaurant operated by one of his daughters.
In the early 1980's, William Wright purchased the Granville Golf Course from Fontas and Wright continued to operate the course until 1986. In March of 1986 a group of six investors, all Denison University alumni, approached Bill Wright with the intent of purchasing the course. He was interested in selling the Bryn Du Mansion restaurant and if we would purchase the Mansion he would sell the course. After some lengthy negotiations the partnership struck a deal with Wright to purchase the Granville Golf Course, the Bryn Du Mansion, including 12 acres, 78 acres of farm land along the East side of the golf course and a 5 year contract to purchase the 30 acres running from the Mansion to Newark-Granville Road. The group felt the only way to make the purchase of the course and the Mansion worth the investment was by developing the adjoining land. The purchase was consummated October 31, 1986 by the newly created company, Granville Golf Course Company, which immediately took over the operation of the Bryn Du restaurant and the Granville Golf Course. Wright continued to keep his horses in the barns until the Spring of 1987. The Bryn Du Mansion was closed at the end of December of 1986 and then in turn sold to Quest International in February of 1987. The Mansion sale included most of the surrounding barns and 12 acres along with the option to purchase the contract on the 30 acre "front yard" of the Mansion. That left Wright with 127 acres adjoining the Mansion to the west.
In November of 1986 the GGC Company hired Jim Bassett, a landscaping architect from Lima, Ohio, to lay out and engineer the development that would be called Bryn Du Woods. By relocating four golf holes there was enough land made available, along with the 78 acres, to permit 94 half acre lots to be developed in three phases. Golf architect Jack Kidwell of Groveport, Ohio designed the four new holes with the intent of keeping them in the style of the original course architect, Donald Ross. That project started in the fall of 1986 and was ready for play in the summer of 1987.
Construction of Phase I, 45 lots, was started in the Spring of 1987 and the first 17 lots were sold in two weeks in
November of 1987. Sales went so well that construction started in late Fall of 1988 on Phase II, 14 lots, and was
ready by Summer of 1989. Also in late Fall of 1988 construction was started on a new clubhouse for the Golf course
and it opened in April 1989. Again with solid sales, construction started in late Fall of 1989 on Phase III, 35 lots, and
was ready for the market the following summer. That completed the original project.
In 1994 William Wright had received a development permit to construct about 178 home sites on the 127 acres. He
never put the permit to use and in 1996 our partnership offered to purchase the land from Wright. He accepted and we once again turned to Jim Bassett to design the development. He came up with a development consisting of 85 1/2 acre lots built in three phases, a site for 42 cluster homes, leaving about 38 acres for green space. It was approved by the Village and construction started on Phase IV, 55 lots, in July 1996.
In July of 2003 construction started on Phase V, 25 lots which were ready for sale the following summer. The 42 lot cluster site was developed by the partnership in two phases. The first 22 lots were ready for sale in 2001 and the second phase lots were ready for sale in 2002. All of the lots were sold to Southgate Corporation over the next two years. That area is known as The Colony at Bryn Du Woods. Construction was started on Phase VI, five lots, in the Spring of 2005 and completed in the late summer. All Bryn Du Woods lots were sold by December of 2005 and control of the project was turned over to the Bryn Du Woods Association December 31, 2005.
Copyright 2011, Bryn Du Woods Homeowners Association