Kevin Kerr, an RHM board member, tells the story of a damp, muddy day when a fund raising dinner and auction concluded, the guests went home, and a slight handful of people returned the next morning to finish cleaning up and to take down tables and chairs. 

The day of the event had been long, as events of this nature always are and the weather hadn’t been friendly to those under the tent at the home of Jill and Paul Griesse. With more than 200 patrons enjoying the space that evening, the well trampled turf was muddy by evening’s end.

One who returned the next morning was Tina Knobel, the wife of Denison president Dale Knobel, and a friend of Jill’s. She, Kevin and Michael Kennedy, realized they were the only three there to do a big job. A few fraternity guys who had offered to help with the tear down didn’t show until Tina eventually made a phone call to her husband.

“It was a Sunday morning and Tina was dressed for church,” Kevin remembers. “but she pitched right in.” 

That commitment to the museum, the community and its causes matched that of her husband Dale, who left his mark by successfully leading Granville’s elite college for 15 years.

Now, two years after Dale’s retirement, the Knobels remind us of their love and respect for the town and gown they touched. With a lead gift of $50,000 from the Knobels, the museum board has declared that the new performance pavilion in the Jill Griesse Memorial Garden will be named in their honor.

The Dale and Tina Knobel Pavilion will stand as the centerpiece of newly envisioned gardens that are gradually beginning to surround the Robbins Hunter house, one of the finest examples of 19th century neo-classical architecture in the country. 

The Jill Griesse Memorial Garden honors a woman who spent her life gardening, having a penchant for the fleeting spring Daffodil and amassing an enviable collection of thousands of varieties on her Granville land. Jill lost her life to cancer, but with the donation of bulbs to RHM by her surviving husband, Paul, she will live on as her beloved trumpet flowers bloom when the days warm and the gentle rains of spring arrive.

 “Although we are getting more and more involved in our new community of Georgetown, Texas, we wanted to be sure that we paid back the Granville community for the wonderful 15 years that we spent as part of it,” Tina remarked. “Several years ago, we made our first gift to the Newark-Granville Symphony and to the Center for Disability Services. This year, we wanted to do something for Granville history.”

The Knobels admire and appreciate the Robbins Hunter house. “We were able to hold a number of Denison events in the house and on the grounds and when we learned that there was a plan to enhance the gardens, we realized there would be even more opportunities to hold college and community events there. We are delighted that the gardens honor Jill, who I enjoyed working with each year on the Daffodil stroll,” Tina said.

Director Ann Lowder and members of the board have been touched by the gift. When the capital campaign to raise $300,000 for garden construction and endowment to maintain was announced in an article in the local newspaper, the Granville Sentinel, the Knobels saw it. “I never dreamed of it,” Ann said after they approached her.

Now Ann lets her mind race. “We can see the performance pavilion opening up new events for us, poetry readings, string quartets, and more,” she said. Small, but special moments in the gardens lie ahead.

“For the Knobels to be remembered in the village and to have their name remembered on the pavilion is an affirmation of our work here and gives weight to who we are,” she added with pride.

With fund raising nearly half way to goal and the new gardens gently underway with Jill’s Daffodils and other new plantings, the prospect of the campaign’s success seems now greener than ever. 

If you haven’t yet stepped up to stand with the Knobels and make a generous gift, now is the time. 


Get Involved

The Jill Griesse Memorial Garden campaign is half way to its goal of $300,000. With $150,000 dedicated to construction and $150,000 to endow the garden to remain beautiful over time, we ask that you join others to honor Jill, her love for flowers and gardening, and to support the project. Period gardens will surround the stately Robbins Hunter house and build the pavilion that you and others will enjoy for generations to come. Your gift counts.

    Make your gift through this website or contact the museum at 740-587-0430.

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.
— Gertrude Jekyll 1843-1932