Hidden Gem: The Hartman Rock Garden
Although the Hartman Rock Garden is situated around a house, the grounds are free to explore for a few hours, making it a perfect place for Wittenberg students to visit as the months continue to get warmer. Behind the years of history surrounding the architecture of the garden, it is something that students can’t miss during their time at Wittenberg.
Located at 1905 Russell Avenue, the garden brings years of rock architecture to life. Harry George Hartman, for whom the garden is named, began creation of this garden in the mid-1930s. As the years have passed since, the garden has been maintained and preserved, most recently by the Kohler Foundation, which is known for its “involvement in the preservation of significant folk art sites across the country,” according to hartmanrockgarden.org.
Although the site recommends that visitors come in the spring to fall months, the Hartman Rock Garden is open year-round, making it an especially sweet trip for students looking for an after Valentine’s Day date.
The garden features a form of art known as in situ folk art. According to the website, this art is an “outsider phenomena where self-taught artists construct fascinating worlds out of concrete, metal, stone and whatever else they can find.”
Throughout the garden, the features of this folk art are present. Throughout the property, there are plenty of rock housings and architecture, even some featuring some of Springfield and Americana icons. Situated up against the house, some of the rock buildings make the grounds feel as if you were in the midst of a mini-town. One of my favorite rock buildings on the ground is the enormous castle, which quite literally looks like a castle built in the olden days – just on a much more miniature size.
Although this isn’t a place that students could walk to (unless they wanted to spend over an hour walking to the garden), the nine-minute drive is a worthwhile trip for students in the upcoming months, especially if the weather stays as nice as it has been.
If students would wish a guided tour, they can request one via the website, or students can have their own guided tours throughout the grounds, admiring not only the rock architecture, but the landscape of the grounds as well. With plenty of wonderful flowers and landscaping, students might find themselves admiring the upkeep of the property just as much as the rock creations.
For students that decide to make the trek down to the Hartman Rock Garden, give yourselves an afternoon to explore the property. When you begin to leave the property, you might notice some intricate detail you missed on the way in. Also, bring your phone or camera because the garden provides plenty of opportunities for beautiful photo-ops.
Don’t let one of Springfield’s iconic and historic sites pass you up during your time here at Wittenberg. Make the trip down to the Hartman Rock Garden with your best friends or significant other and admire the beauty that nature has provided within in situ folk art and this beautiful garden.