Rockome…a little bit folk art environment, a little bit Amish theme park

Rockome Gardens – Arthur and Elizabeth Martin

Created 1937-1958
Rock environment
Arcola, IL
As far as environments go, Rockome Gardens and the rock work ranks right up at the top. Started in 1939, when Arthur and Elizabeth Martin dreamt to have the largest flower garden in Douglas County. The Martins loved to travel, and is believed that they were inspired by the Dickeyville Grotto, 300 miles away. (When you look at the glass and how it is embedded into the cement with the jagged edges sticking out, you can see that the similarities are striking. Wegner Grotto and the Rudolph Grotto also employ the same technique.)
When work at Arthur’s Progress Industries was slow due to the depression and the war, instead of laying off the workers they had them help create elaborate walls, arches, ponds and buildings throughout the 20 acres.

In 1958, the property was sold to Elvan Yoder, who together with his sons, turned it into an Amish theme park, with a bakery, restaurant, events, and demonstrations. Inspired by the bottle houses at Knott’s Berry Farms, the Yoders built three bottle house, including a 7-Up castle and 2,400 bottle Fresca House.

The Yoders sold the property to new owners in 2006. Sadly, citing insurance issues, the new owners tore down the bottle buildings. Hopefully, they will seek restoration help in the future to save the existing rock work.

(The tic-tac-toe playing chicken. He always wins!)

(Clara, waitress and budding photographer)
Arcola is a small town with a big variety of attractions. Not only is it home to Rockome and the Raggedy Ann and Andy Museum, it is also the spot to find the country’s only Hippie Memorial. A metal sculpture created by Bob Moomaw and lovingly saved by his friends.