There aren’t many places you can go to grab a drink that were built in 1806. It’s sometimes like sitting in the middle of history when you belly up to a bar in a building like that, and I have to tell you – I’m all about it. There are a lot of bars that try to feel like they’re old or come up with some story that can showcase a history that happened long before they were here, but when you find a place that lived it? It’s special.
The History of the Century Inn
Built back in 1806 by a man named Andrew Van Dyke, the Inn that would come to be known as the Century Inn was a popular stop on the route from Cincinnati to Springfield or Hamilton. There was a large barn behind the building for riders to tie up their horses and take a little bit of time to rest.
In the mid-1800s, Van Dyke’s grandson, now owner, renamed the Inn the ‘Farmers Inn’ because of how many of their guests were farmers making the trip back and forth. 1871 it became known as the ‘Halfway House’ when owner Paul Hartman took over. This era didn’t last long before, in 1880, it got new ownership and a new name, ‘The Old Inn’ (hilarious that they thought it was old in 1880). For a period, the Inn was called ‘Wheelman’s Rest’ as it became a stopping place for bicycle racers to rest as they ventured up the hill from Wyoming.
In 1906 the Inn was run by Harry Arns, who took it over from his father. Harry renamed the place the Century Inn in honor of its 100th anniversary.
The Century Inn has obviously seen many changes, many stories have passed through its doors, and it’s a big reason that the place feels so fantastic when you stop by for a drink or dinner with your friends and family.
What To Expect Today
When you walk through the side doors of the bar by the parking lot, you head down a hallway before you get to the main dining room. When you step over the threshold, you are immediately taken into a space that feels like it’s been here as long as you know it has. The bar is a little rough – like it’s seen some stuff over the years. A fireplace sits off to the side, providing the perfect ambiance for the experience.
Other restaurant parts have been updated over the years, giving the space a warm, country diner-like vibe. There are plenty of tables in several rooms around the building to provide plenty of room for folks looking for a quiet dinner or private space if you want to reserve some for a party or event.
The bar is where I gravitate, though. The Century Inn manages a small tap list that covers the bases of your standard “big beers”, and a well-curated lineup of a few craft beers as well. Wine or cocktail drinkers won’t feel out of place here… though it doesn’t seem like the type of place where a lot of craft cocktails are being made – I’d stick to the simple classics if I were looking for something other than your go-to shot or neat pour of spirits.
There’s a deck out back that leads down to a gravel patio and a beautiful area for drinking in the summer months. ‘The Treehouse Bar’ is a whole experience within itself. There’s sand volleyball, firepits, a fountain, and plenty of landscaping to give you the outdoor drinking experience we all crave this time of year.
It’s completely different from the vibe inside the restaurant, and I think that’s part of what makes it so great. This is one of those bars that satisfy the drinking needs of many different people. Because of that, on any given night (especially during the summer), you’ll find many different types of people thoroughly enjoying themselves under the same roof.
Why It Feels So Good
In a world where bars are trying very hard to feel “special,” it’s refreshing for a place not to have to create its own history artificially. The Century Inn feels historic because it is. When you belly up, you feel like you are a part of that history, and it just feels good.
This place has been around for a long time. It was the first place in Ohio to serve a draft beer. There used to be a dairy on-site. A place like this makes you quiet down the present a little bit, and escape into a world that no longer exists… and that is why I’ve become a huge fan.