Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Bancroft House

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Institution Name: Denison University
Original/Historic Place Name: Ashley Bancroft House
Location on Campus: 555 N. Pearl St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1832-1834original construction Bancroft, Ashley
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: sandstone
Walls: ashlar
Roof: shingle
1834-1917private residence
1917-present (2007)residence hall (women)

Significance: architecture, education, history, religion
Landmark designation:
National RegisterA.A. Bancroft House (1980); Granville Historic District (1980)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Ashley A. Bancroft built a three bay, two story house between 1832-1834, of locally quarried sandstone in an early Federal/vernacular style. It featured a typical Federal style fanlight in the entry. A front porch was added at one time and has since been removed. Denison University acquired the property in 1917 as part of a land purchase to pursue the "Greater Denison" campus plan of the 1920s. Bancroft House has undergone a number of renovations and presently houses upper-class women.

The Bancrofts were a notable Granville, Ohio, family who built a number of area houses. A fervent abolitionist, Ashley allowed his barn (no longer onsite) to be used for the 1836 meeting of the Ohio State Anti-Slavery Society. The meeting's end led to the only riot in Granville's history, as the abolitionists were attacked by local men who disagreed with proposed immediate freedom for slaves. Ashley's son, historian Hubert Howe Bancroft, documented that the house served as an Underground Railroad station, as fugitive slaves journeyed through Granville on their way to Oberlin and then to Canada. The house stands at the Pearl Street entry to campus and is one of the most historically significant sites in Granville. Its association with both the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad make the site an important part of both state and national history.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Chessman, G. Wallace. Denison: The Story of an Ohio College. Granville, OH: Denison University, 1957.

Graham Gund Architects. Comprehensive Master Plan [Denison University]. [Cambridge, MA: Graham Gund Architects], November 1999.

Granville Ohio Historical Society and Museum. A Look at the Pictorial Past of the Village of Granville Ohio. [s.l.: s.n.], 1970.

King, Horace. Granville Massachusetts to Ohio. Granville, OH: Granville Sentinel Publishing, 1989.

Price, Matlack. "Denison University." Architectural Record 54, no. 4 (1923): 299-320.

Recchie, Nancy. Granville Historic District [Denison University]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1980.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections, Facilities Management Office
Government Offices
Other: Granville Historical Society

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Last update: November 2006