History of Rockome Gardens:
Arthur and Elizabeth Martin started off with a dream to have the largest flower garden in Douglas County. With that in mind, they purchased this 208 acre farm, five miles west of Arcola. They decided to devote 7 acres of the farm to flower gardens, rock formations and their summer cottage. Mr. Martin owned Progress Industries. When work was slow due to the war and the depression, instead of letting his workers become unemployed, he sent them out to construct rock formations and fences. Work toward development of the gardens has been going on since 1937. The first gardens to be constructed were the sunken gardens. Construction of the rockwork consisted of first a metal framework, and then a special consistency of concrete is imbedded into the frame and followed by native stone being set into the concrete. 85-90% of the rocks are local rocks from Rockome’s property and neighboring properties. The next gardens to be constructed were the perennial gardens which are just east of the sunken gardens. The Martins went on expanding and beautifying their summer home. After awhile word got around about how beautiful it was out at Rockome or “Martinome”. Many visitors started to drive by and look at the interesting rockwork and the beautiful gardens. The Martins decided to share their home with everyone who came by to see it. Some of the visitors would call this place Martin’s Rock home. He liked that idea so he dropped the “h” and called it Rockome. They did not charge any admission. As Arthur Martin said, “It is merely our donation to your happiness to make us both forget war, strife, jealousy, death and destruction”.