In 1932, H.G. “Ben” Hartman was working in his yard, building a stone-lined fish pond when he became inspired. Unemployed during the Great Depression Hartman used his time to build a sprawling rock wonderland in his yard. In Springfield Ohio, his creations still stand, staggeringly out of place in the quiet suburban landscape.The picket fence surrounding the Rock Garden seems like a last effort to blend the Garden with its surroundings.. until you realize that the fence itself is built of stone.
Containing an estimated 20,000 stones, Hartman’s Garden is a memorial to one man’s vision. Having broken the stones down to size himself, Hartman constructed a a replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, a White House, a Mount Vernon, and a large castle with drawbridge as well as many other structures. A line of stone animals marches up a bridge to Noah’s Ark: all made of pebbles.
Some border on decorative kitsch, but many are simply beautiful. Be sure to get down on your knees and seek out the dozens of stone figures inhabiting the Garden. After decades of decay, the stone houses are covered in moss; the figures are startling, some are in the midst of mock battles, others praying inside tiny stone houses. Insects crawl through buildings’ cracks, and piles of dust still sit in the workshop where Hartman spent so much of his life.
Hartman’s son died in 2007, leaving the Garden to his children who are currently looking for someone to buy and look after the Garden.