Garrettsville was once a thriving 19th-century center of various mills, foundries and factories. By 1899 it was considered the largest maple syrup center in the world.
There are still many commercial and industrial interests in the area, though in 2014, the retail sector was stunned by a fire that burned a downtown block, leveling 13 businesses.
The community remains a primary shopping and dining destination for the rural townships that surround it. If you’re visiting, most businesses are closed Sunday and Monday.
Garrettsville never grew out of its village status and remains a quaint example of small-town America.
In the far northeast corner of Portage County, Garrettsville is located where the four townships of Nelson, Hiram, Windham and Freedom meet.
The town is named for Col. John Garrett III, who purchased 300 acres of Nelson Township and worked with other settlers to carve a community from the forest in 1804. It wasn’t until 1864 that townsfolk petitioned the county to have a one-mile square area designated as the village of Garrettsville.
The Cranes were the town’s most famous family. Arthur Crane, who had a cannery on Windham Street, is credited with making Garrettsville the world’s biggest maple syrup center at the turn of the last century. HIs son founded Crane Candies and developed the formula for Lifesavers candy. His grandson Hart Crane became a famous poet and was hailed as one of the most influential writers of his generation.
Garrettsville was the site of one of the last great train robberies in America. In 1935, Alvin Karpis — the FBI’s Public Enemy No. 1 — and his gang forced a couple of townspeople to transfer $30,000 from the train car to their vehicle. The high school nickname “The G-Men” stems from the term used for FBI men who came to town after the robbery. Karpis was eventually caught.
Other noteworthy Garrettsville natives: First Lady Lucretia Rudolph Garfield, wife of President James Garfield; and Jeff Richmond, a composer, actor and director. Richmond composed the music for and directed many episodes of “30 Rock,” was nominated for a Tony for his score to “Mean Girls,” and is married to comic actress Tina Fey.
Note: Many businesses are altering their hours of operation during the COVID-19 pandemics. Be aware that the information reported in this list may change.
• Garrett’s Mill & Brewing Co., 8148 Main St., is on scenic Eagle Creek, and includes the mill built by town founder John Garrett in 1804. The old mill now offers an upscale casual dining experience with craft and domestic beers and food made fresh from scratch, as well as an ice cream window. Open noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. https://www.garrettsmillbrewing.com
• Established in 2003, Sean’s Pub is an old-style pub and a popular local hangout. Located at 8105 Main St., it’s open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. https://www.facebook.com/SeansPub
• Eagle Creek Nature Preserve, 11027 Hopkins Road, is a 477-acre preserve with beaver dams, marshlands, small bogs and button bush swamps. There is a 3-mile hiking trail allowing visitors to sample the flora and fauna.
• Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, 12001 State Route 282, features spectacular rock formations created during the Ice Age. The area was a vital trade center for Native Americans and early pioneers. Today, in warm weather months, there is camping, swimming, hiking and music festivals. There is a cost to enter the park. Visit https://www.nlqp.com for details.
• Sugar Bush Golf Course: 11185 State Route 88, was described as “Nature’s Best” by the Warren Tribune Chronicle for its challenging topography and scenic rolling hills. Open seven days a week. https://www.sugarbushgolfcourse.com.
• Slim and Jumbos is a sports bar at 8105 Main St., with the requisite large screen TVs and a robust crowd on game day. Open 3 p.m. to 2:30 a.m Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. https://www.facebook.com/SlimandJumbos
• Cellar Door Coffee Co., 8138 Water St., has a selection of lattes and specialty beverages, sandwiches and salads to enjoy with them, and an ice cream bar to top it all off. Open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. https://www.cellardoorcoffeeco.com
• Headwaters Trail — for hikers, bikers and horseback riders — is an 8.5-mile limestone-paved trail built on the former Cleveland-Mahoning Railroad line between Mantua and Garrettsville. It features farmland and forests, steep ravines and wetlands, and the Upper Cuyahoga State Scenic River. Find trailhead parking at 10482 South St. or 10647 Freedom St.
• Each summer the village is home to the Garrettsville Summerfest. The event features canoe races, a tractor parade, the Garrettsville Idol contest, live music and various contests. Visit http://www.garrettsvillesummerfest.com to be alerted about next year’s event.
• Two Travelers Tavern, 8097 Main St., has casual American fare. It’s open 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. https://www.facebook.com/Two-Travelers-Tavern-176847706430932
• Villager Emporium offers unique merchandise, ranging from new to antique. Located at 8088 Main St., it’s open four days a week, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. https://www.villageremporium.com
• Another specialty shop is right down the street at Waterfall Antiques and Collectibles. Located at 8130 Main St, it’s open three days a week — Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• The Village Bookstore looks like a scene out of Harry Potter, with its small cozy room filled with shelves of mostly used books. Stop in at 8140 Main St. between 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. But if this is an important destination for you, call before you go to make sure it’s open: 330-527-3010.
• Fitzgerald’s Hand Made Limited, 8108 Main St., features handmade items, including candles, soaps, bath bombs, T-shirts, signs, wood burnings, handbags, blankets and gift baskets. Open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. https://www.facebook.com/Fitzgeralds-Hand-Made-Limited-463978627735546
• For a burger, the place to be is The Brick Tavern, 8273 Windham St. There are other menu choices, but the “Freddyburgers” have been a popular fare at this restaurant, opened since 1963. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. https://www.freddyburger.com.
Founded: Settled in 1804. Incorporated in 1864.
School and mascot: James A. Garfield Local School District: the G-Men.