Robbins Hunter Museum Avery Downer House

221 Broadway E
Granville, OH 43023-1305

740-587-0430   |
Wednesday through Saturday 1-4 p.m. during regular season and year round by appointment
Free general admission with docent-led tour. $5 per person admission for tours of 10 or more.

A Historic Home with Charm and Whimsy

Don’t be fooled by the austere façade: this grand house museum has charm and whimsy. Learn about the importance of Greek Revival architecture in the young republic, admire the beautiful, restored interiors, and await the hourly bell toll for an appearance by the famously infamous Victoria Woodhull.

The Robbins Hunter Museum is housed in the Avery-Downer House, one of the finest examples of a restored Greek Revival home in the United States. When the revival of Greek architectural forms became popular in the late 1700s, the first buildings to use the style were government buildings, museums, and houses of worship—such as nearby St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (1838) at 111 E. Broadway. In the young American republic, the choice of Greek Revival for private homes signaled the builder’s public commitment to civic virtue. Indeed, the grey color of the house was chosen to evoke costly masonry work, meant to signal stability, strength, and enduring values.

The Avery-Downer House was built in 1842, over thirty years after the village of Granville was founded. The Village was established in 1805 by a group of settlers from the western Massachusetts town of Granville, who were drawn to Ohio by the promise of fertile and plenteous land. For much of its early years, the village was the site of as many as five institutions of learning, many of them serving women, making this an important spot of civilization on the early Ohio frontier.

After changing hands several times in the 19th century, and for many decades used by a Denison University fraternity, the house was bought by Robbins “Bobby” Hunter, Jr. in 1956. Hunter, the son of a prominent Newark family, was one of Ohio’s earliest professional antiquarians and used the Avery-Downer House as a showroom and storeroom for his ever-revolving collection.

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Notes for Travelers

A visit to the Robbins Hunter Museum is Granville’s “not-to-be-missed” attraction. Admission is free for individuals and groups under ten and comes with a guided tour. The quality of decorative arts is very high and features many examples of fine Ohio furniture and material culture. The tour integrates the history of the house with fascinating details of daily life in the 19th century, as well as the work and legacy of Robbins Hunter, Jr. Hunter added two of the most distinctive features of the house, now much beloved by visitors: a soaring octagonal room in the rear—complete with twinkling Christmas tree lights—and a delightfully eccentric clock tower that features a mobile statue of 19th century reformer and women’s rights advocate, Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927). Woodhull was born in the nearby town of Homer. Aware that no local institution championed her legacy, Hunter was keen to give Woodhull a monument of her own. Ask the tour guide for a history of Woodhull’s storied career, and Hunter’s efforts to assemble the Woodhull clock tower. And while awaiting Victoria’s hourly appearance, be sure to visit the adjacent café, Alfie’s Wholesome Food, for a tasty snack. The Robbins Hunter Museum features curated exhibitions on the second-floor, so repeat visits are always rewarding. Visit in April for the blooming of the Jill Harms Griesse Historic Garden, which features an American Daffodil Society display garden.