From its mansions to its nature preserves, Licking County, Ohio has history rooted deep within the community. The story behind each landmark is unique and adds to the mystique of the location. Licking County is in central Ohio, just east of Columbus.
Bryn Du Mansion
The Bryn Du Mansion (bryndu.com) in Granville was originally constructed by Henry D. Wright, a Granville businessman, in 1865. It was constructed of sandstone quarried directly from the property on which it lies, and was built with an Italianate Villa design. In 1905, railroad and coal tycoon John Sutphin Jones purchased the mansion. He named the estate "Bryn Du," which is Welsh for "dark hills." Over the years, many people owned the mansion, including Dave Longaberger, owner of the Longaberger Company. He constructed games courts, a field house and began a number of renovations. Longaberger died in 1999, and in 2002, an advisory election was held to determine the public option of purchasing the property. The village of Granville acquired Bryn Du from the Longaberger family. It is now open to the public and is a venue for events year-round, including art shows, polo matches and garden displays.
If you miss the Longaberger (longaberger.com) office building in Frazeysburg, you might need to get your eyes checked. Longaberger manufactures handcrafted baskets, and the building, which serves as the corporate headquarters for the family-owned-and-operated company, is in the shape of a large basket. Longaberger offers tours through the building, which includes a full-service store full of handcrafted baskets, souvenirs and more.
The Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve is rich with scenery and history. It's named after a dark, hand-shaped Indian petroglyph that was engraved on a sandstone cliff on the north side of the Licking River. The cliff was destroyed in 1828 during the construction of the Erie Canal. The canal runs through the gorge, which is surrounded by hilltops full of Virgina pine, yellow birch, mountain laurel and Eastern hemlock. Over 14 miles of hiking and bike trails are found within the preserve, which is eight miles east of Newark on State Route 16.
Built by Jackson Davis in 1861, the Davis-Shai House (davisshaihouse.com) is a Gothic Revival structure, a style popular in the first half of the 19th century. In 1945, the house was purchased by a local dentist, Dr. Joseph Park Shai, at an estate sale. The Shai family made renovations to the house, and in 1995, donated it to the city of Heath. Originally built near the Erie Canal, the Davis-Shair House now sits on Hebron Road. To commemorate the historical move, the city of Heath buried a time capsule on-site. The Davis-Shai House is open to the public and can be booked for company gatherings, weddings and more.