The Resistance to Change of Granville, Ohio

            Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Granville, Ohio is home to a vast amount of history, this can be seen easily in its parish house. The parish house is home to a simple black and white photo displaying the church from the 1940s. After seeing this photo, I began to notice many other photos of a similar style around Granville, businesses having photos showing just how long they have stood in the town and I began to come to a conclusion as to what this showed about Granville. Looking further into this matter in historical documents, academic papers, news articles, and the reports of fellow peers my ideas were only further confirmed, these topics are what will be discussed along with the photographs in this paper. While other towns and cities have been constantly expanding and changing with the times, the remnants of the past in Granville, Ohio seen in photos, town events, and records show the town’s resistance to the changes of time

These photos help represent the town of Granville as a whole because of the history that goes along with them. Granville holds its history in high regard as all throughout the town, not just on Broadway Street, plaques can be found explaining the historical significance of a certain building or statue and when it was built. These plaques, while frequent, are not the focus because those were all placed by historical societies, not by the ordinary civilians of Granville as the pictures were. The fact is that these shopkeepers in Granville have kept these outdated photos up in their stores instead of replacing them with new pictures of a higher resolution. Even the outlier shops, the chain businesses, will have the same old photos that were in the shops before they moved in because they know that history is crucial to the identity of the town. This fact of how Granvillians care so deeply about the history of their town shows why these photos can be regarded as the heart of Granville.

The black and white photo in Saint Luke’s shows a Saint Luke’s church of nearly 80 years ago. But even with time, the building looks stunningly similar. The church still is clearly painted white with its signature gold-colored steeple, and while it can’t be seen for sure that it was gold it can be assumed by the way the sun shines off it in the photo. Even the ornament seemed to be the same at the top of the church, the only visible difference in the grainy photo was the roof shingles which seemed to be in disrepair at the time of the photo being taken. In the soon to be 80 years since the photo was taken, the church has done nothing to change its appearance other than the necessary roof shingles being replaced. Even the buildings immediately next to the church appeared to look the same as they do in the present day. Although this is somewhat ironic as this photo was taken before its neighboring building to the west was built and subsequently burned down. However, this does raise the question why keep that photo up in the church after the opera house was built? The photo could have easily been retaken from the same angle to show the new opera house next to the church. Maybe it was due to the fact that the church did not want their building to seem small next to its neighbor, which is entirely possible as the opera house held a similar architectural style to the church other than the fact that its size was far greater. But maybe it was along with the idea that the church felt it had to prove its worth in some way, because it may not be the larger of the two, but it was there first. This then could be another reason in this photo that history matters greatly in the town. Yet another interesting point in this photo of Saint Luke’s is the fact that it is even in black and white at all. The photo was taken in the 1940s, at this time color film was in production, which brings up the question why would it have been shot in black and white? Perhaps it was due to the fact that the technology at the time was still rather new, and as such the church could not afford to get a camera to shoot a color photograph, or maybe there is a more niche reason. The photo could have been taken in black and white as to not take away from the prominence of the church in the photo. This is because the church is white painted with black shingles, and with the red brick building beside it and the bright green trees in front of it, the color of these would take away from the focus of the photo, the church. However, there is a counter-argument to that as assuming the steeple of the church was in fact gold at the time, that could have out shown the red brick and green trees, and therefore still allowing the church to be the center of attention to the photo. So because of this, a third theory came to mind, the fact that maybe the photographer chose black and white as an active defiance to change in the town. Color film was a relatively new practice, and Granville wants to keep its mentality of permanence, so because of this the photographer chose to photograph the church in black and white to make it seem older, to make it seem like a piece of history, which of course it is now but it was not at the time of its taking.

Moving away from the photo itself, the photo’s framing is quite interesting. The photo’s frame keeps with the black and white theme the photo starts. The mat around the photo takes an off-white color while the thick lightly ornate frame takes a matte black color. These colors were most likely chosen to make the photo itself stand out, with the off whites and blacks in the photo are only more apparent against the other photos on the wall with the help of the mat and frame. Additionally, a pattern that repeats regarding all of the photos on the wall of the church is that the smaller, older black and white photos are given large mats along with a larger frame to make them seem more important, to not get out shown by the larger, newer color photos of the church. This yet again shows how the church values its history, because it could have easily taken down photos and put up new ones as time went on, or kept the old photos in their smaller frames but it is clear that they were moved to new larger frames to show their significance among all the large, colored photos.

These photos can be seen all around town in similar circumstances to the one described at Saint Luke’s church, these old photos show the people of Granville’s love of the past, and life remaining the way it always has been. This permanence, however, can be seen in more than just the pictures around Granville, but also articles, records, and scholarly articles on the topic.

One article on the topic of Granville’s Permanence is from the Newark Advocate written by Brian Miller in 2006. The author writes about in this article his experience with going to an art show held in the Bryn Du Mansion in Granville. The art show showcased “Impressions of

Granville 2006” through 78 unique pieces of art by artists from around central Ohio that were meant to encapsulate the feeling of being in Granville, Ohio. The interesting thing, however, is that the artists do not come from solely Granville, as if something was drawing artists here to see this small town when they could go anywhere else for inspiration. This thought is elaborated on further by the author when he states that, “Granville’s historic ambiance is admired by many who live outside the community, including artists” (Miller). The way the author describes why artists flock to Granville shows that the thing that truly defines Granville is its history, and how that history can still be seen. The love of Granville’s history is really shown through the aforementioned photos and this is part of the reason it embodies this spirit of the past. This fact of how Granville resonates with historical purpose shows yet again that Granville values its past much more than other towns and resists change because of this.

A very physical representation of Granville’s resistance to change is shown through records of the town through the years. One record in particular that stands out is the “Denison University, Granville Ohio. J. Burchard. D. Mitchell, 1938.” Map of Granville that, as shown in the title was drawn 81 years ago. The map is a hand-drawn map made for students of Denison University to know their way around campus and Granville (Burchard). The red ink it is drawn in depicts the downtown area and college campus as well as points of interest drawn in full around the edge of the map, one of which is the very church and opera house mentioned before. Each of these landmarks, other than the opera house, of course, can still be seen around Granville and on Denison’s campus and all of which in the town have been standing long before the map was created. The oldest of these landmarks is St. Luke’s Church built 106 years before this map was drawn. The streets in this map can be compared to the streets in the present so well that the map could still be used today with very little changes. The map has a stunning resemblance to the downtown area today, so much so that the only noticeable differences are additional streets on Denison’s campus and the removal of a road in the south side of town. Due to the fact that the downtown area of Granville has not changed in the over 80 years since this map was created truly does show that Granville is a place in a state of resistance to change.

While Granville could have been expanding all the same as other cities and towns, the people of the town have been the driving force to stop change from occurring. The article “The University Immune System: Overcoming Resistance to Change” shows this fact very well. The article, written by Ann Gilley of Ferris State University, Marisha Godek of Colorado State University, and Jerry W. Gilley of Colorado State University describes how people react to change especially with the case of a university, which fits well for the population size and college town atmosphere of Granville. The authors write in the article on this topic that, “People are inherently resistant to change; thus, avoiding or resisting change is human nature. Reasons for resistance to change are numerous, including one’s predisposition toward change, fear of the unknown…” (Gilley 2). This quote shows that it makes sense why Granville is the unchanging place it is shown to be through its pictures, art, and maps. The people of Granville are a relatively small population, about 11 times smaller than that of the enrollment population of Ohio State University, so it makes sense that it would follow this trend as found by the writers of the paper. The stagnant, unchanging nature of the Granville is therefore shown also through the people who live in it. This small body of people has throughout its history gone with the course of human nature, resisting change whenever possible.

This resistance to change can also be seen in how Granvillians take a stance like that of Stephen Gunzelman in regards to the Scioto River. In his paper on the topic, he takes a stance that, “as the community grows around the river and as technology gets more advanced the river becomes more and more diluted with the pollution of the modern world as well as its past” (Gunzelman). This pollution due to the modernization of Upper Arlington is exactly what the people of Granville want to avoid by clinging to the past. As the area has modernized, the people of Upper Arlington have been taken further and further away from the river which once brought their community closer together. This same thing could happen to Granville, but as the town fears this, the people have been in a state of resistance to the change that could cause the town to lose the charm it possesses now.

Another prime example of Granville’s longing for the past can be seen in the parks in Granville, such as the Wildwood Park, as described by Zachary LaValley. In his paper, he describes the rebuilding of Wildwood Park, and while this may seem like it is against the stagnant nature of Granville, that is far from correct. At the time of it’s rebuilding, the Wildwood Park was becoming dangerous to children, kids at the park would hurt themselves on the sharp edges and receive splinter’s from the cracked wood, so the obvious solution was to build a new park. However, instead of building a shiny, brightly colored park as many other new parks are now, Granville built a new park with a “brown color as a way of imitating the old wood that the park was once built of” (LaValley). This shows very well Granville’s resistance to change, the town could have built a new park that portrayed newness through brightly colored plastic, but instead a brown, wooden color was chosen to hold onto the image of the old park that stood before it.

Some people, contrary to the argument above, will state that they have seen other small towns changing so it cannot be so that a town would just choose not to change. This contradicting peer-reviewed article, “Big School Change in a Small Town”, is written by Jacqueline Edmondson of Penn State, Gregory Thorson of the University of Redlands, and David Fluegel of the University of Minnesota to show how small towns can change contrary to popular belief. The article writes about how a town in Minnesota was facing issues with a shrinking population and support for the schools so they enacted a plan to counteract the issues, which shows that small towns can change. The ability of the town to change was shown by the results of the plan, “Surveys distributed during the final town meeting showed that 81 percent of community members believed that they had an increased knowledge of school issues. Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed suggested that as a result of participation in this process, they would be more likely to volunteer in future school-community projects.”. However, this situation cannot be applicable to Granville as Granville has not seen any problems that required a drastic change to keep the town thriving, and when it has the problem has been ignored. This can be shown through the school levies of late where the school will continue to attempt to receive grant money but the township will vote it down as they do not understand why this could ever be needed.

All of these points lead to an interesting conclusion to a person such as myself. I am currently majoring in Engineering Physics with a specialty in Mechanical Engineering and hope to someday work on projects such as mining Helium 3 on the moon, an isotope of Helium not found naturally on Earth, for use in nuclear power or building a space elevator for transporting payloads to Earth orbit without having to use rocket fuel which is expensive and pollutes the atmosphere. The contrasting views on I have concerning how the future should look with the rest of Granville raise the question, what will happen to Granville when this future really does come true and the town still looks and operates the same as it did in the 1900s? While no one can have a definitive answer, it is interesting to think about. Maybe Granville will be forced to change with the times as many other places surely will be, or perhaps people will continue to cling to the past as they do now, making Granville a sanctuary for an older way of life.

All of these aforementioned ideas and observations have shown through photos, artists, maps, and scholars show that Granville is a town in a state of utter stability. The people of the town are happy with the way it is and how it always has been, and it does not look as though it will be changing anytime soon. Many people may see this as a bad thing, but if it is providing a source of happiness to those living in it, then perhaps it should be allowed to continue. With the constant moving and changing of everyday life, a bit of stillness can be freeing.



Works Cited

Burchard, D, and D. Michell. Denison University, Granville Ohio. 1938, David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.,-Granville-Ohio


Edmondson, Jacqueline, et al. “Big School Change in a Small Town.” Educational Leadership, vol. 57, no. 7, Jan. 2000, pp. 51–53. EBSCOhost,


Gilley, Ann, et al. “The University Immune System: Overcoming Resistance to Change.” Contemporary Issues in Education Research, vol. 2, no. 3, Jan. 2009, pp. 1–6. EBSCOhost,


Gunzelman, Stephen. “The Scioto River: To Preserve or not to Preserve.” Unpublished paper, English 1110.01. Spring 2019.


LaValley, Zachary. “The unique beauty present in Granville’s appearance” Unpublished paper, English 1110.01. Spring 2019.


Miller, B. “Granville impressions”. The Advocate 24 Sept. 2006. Retrieved from