Located at the corner of Russell and McCain avenue in Springfield, the Hartman Rock Garden is the work of one man, Ben Hartman.
Ben Hartman was a mold-maker by trade and moved from Pennsylvania to Springfield in 1913 for a job at the Springfield Machine Tool Company foundry.
Things were going well for the Hartman family, up until 1932, when the Great Depression caused Ben to be laid off from his job.
During this time, he started working with concrete and other materials in his back yard to pass the time. His first project was to build a concrete fishing pond – but that just lead to the inclusion of more and more structures and figures in the yard. The themes included, history, religion and patriotic symbols.
There are over 50 structures in the garden.
In 1944, Ben Hartman passed away and his wife, Mary, took over the care and maintenance of the garden.
Mary Hartman passed away in 1997, and no one was left to care for the garden and there was a 10 year span where the maintenance was not done. The Kohler foundation purchased the site and started a restoration project in 2008. Restoration was completed in 2009 .
That same year, Kohler transferred ownership of the Hartman Rock Garden to the non-profit Friends of the Hartman Rock Garden organization. They had a grand re-opening in 2010 and have been maintaining the garden ever since.
The Hartman Rock Garden is open 365 days a year from 8am to 8pm
There is no admission fee to the garden, but donations are encouraged and appreciated.
1905 Russell Avenue, Springfield, Ohio 45506
Nestled within a neighborhood in Springfield, Ohio lies a hidden little gem of a place – the Hartman Rock Garden.
The site is beautiful, with a small section to the left of the entrance sign as soon as you arrive.
Here, you see arches and angels as well as what appear to be religious statues within some of the archways.
Going into the main area of the garden and just to the left, there is a large, castle like structure with many religious iconography and scenes, including the last supper.
Below is a side view of a castle and village
We cannot imagine what kind of time and patience it must take to put together these kinds of pieces. We know that Hartman used inspiration from things that he knew and loved and you can see and appreciate that when looking at the individual pieces and the scenes represented.
While the garden itself is note something I would call “huge”, the enormity of it is more in the amount of rocks used and the number of different scenes. There is a such a variety of things to see and experience here.
This is a fantastic, magical place to come and visit. It doesn’t take long to go through, but we thought it was definitely worth the experience and was the main draw for us to visit Springfield on this day.
It is awesome to see an art piece of this size, in the middle of a neighborhood that is free for all to enjoy.
Many thanks to the Friends of the Hartman Rock Garden for taking up the mantle and keeping this place maintained and accessible.