Must-See Spaces & Places

There are many new and improved locations on and off the Hill that just must be seen when you’re back in town for Reunion. These places are among the things that set Denison apart from other liberal arts colleges. Check them out!


Alligator Mound: The “Alligator” mound is located on top of a bluff overlooking the Raccoon Creek valley. It is one of two great animal effigy mounds built by Ohio’s prehistoric people. Alligator mound is a giant earthen sculpture of a four-footed animal with a round head and a long, curving tail. The earthwork is approximately 250 feet long, 76 feet wide, and about four feet high. Scholars do not know who built Alligator Mound, but it may have been the work of the Hopewell people who also built the great Newark Earthworks located just three miles to the east. The Newark Earthworks were built between 100 B.C. and A.D. 400.

Newark Earthworks: The Newark Earthworks are the largest set of geometric earthen enclosures in the world. In The Seventy Wonders of the Ancient World (1999), Cambridge University archeologist, Chris Scarre named the Newark Earthworks as one of only three North American sites that qualified as an ancient wonder. Compared with other ancient wonders, the Newark earthworks are colossal. Visitors are invited to watch an interactive video explaining the significance of the site and tour a 1,000-square-foot exhibit that includes a timeline of Ohio’s ancient cultures and an explanation of why American Indians regard the Newark Earthworks as a sacred site.

Dawes Arboretum: Founded in 1929 by Beman and Bertie Dawes, The Arboretum now covers nearly 1,800 acres and includes eight miles of hiking trails and a four-mile Auto Tour. There are more than 15,000 living plants on The Arboretum’s grounds, and most are hardy in central Ohio. Of these plants, 4,500 are unique names (taxa). Records kept for each plant include a specific location, scientific and common names, origin, and age. The Arboretum’s native plant conservation efforts include conserving plants in their native habitats, inventorying native plant communities, and restoring and recreating Ohio native ecosystems.

Bryn Du Mansion: For more than 100 years, the historic Bryn Du Mansion has dominated the landscape of a 52-acre estate on the east side of Granville. Its colorful history, and the history of the families that lived there, add to its rich environment and unique facilities. There are a total of seven buildings on the grounds: the field house, carriage house, pump house, gardener’s cottage, laundry cottage, and horse barn.

Denison Museum: The Denison Museum in Burke Hall houses the collections and exhibition spaces of Denison University. The collections comprise nearly 8,000 objects from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North and Central America. The display spaces are not only used to showcase the permanent collection, but they are also devoted to the presentation of a wide variety of exhibitions. The Denison Museum is dedicated to providing students, faculty, and staff of the University, as well as the wider community, with first-hand cultural experience. An on-going program of lectures, symposia, visiting artists, gallery tours, and other events is available to the Denison audience and the general public.

Granville Historical Society: The Granville Historical Society was created on March 9, 1885, by Charles Webster Bryant, Crayton Black, and Francis Shepardson. Its formation was in part a response to the realization, after the 75th anniversary of the founding of the town, that firsthand memories of the early days of Granville were vanishing. The Society’s Museum, housed in the 1816 building that had been the Bank of the Alexandrian Society, is open seasonally; it houses and displays important artifacts from the history of the area, from a mastodon tooth to a bassoon that saw action in the War of 1812, to a wide array of clothing and household objects.

Avery-Downer and Robbins Hunter Museum: The Avery-Downer House and Robbins Hunter Museum is a historic house museum furnished with 18th and 19th-century decorative arts acquired by the original owners, as well as collectors tied to the house over its long history. The house has 27 rooms, sixteen of which are open to the public. A private residence until 1903, the house was owned successively by the Avery, Spelman, and Downer families. From 1903 to 1930, the house was home to Denison University’s Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, and from 1930 until 1956 it was home to the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. From 1956 until 1979, Robbins Hunter, Jr. made his home here. He had long harbored a dream of preserving the Avery-Downer House as a museum, and during his 23 years of ownership, he painstakingly collected antiques worthy of furnishing the interior.