HARTMAN STOCK FARM
The Hartman Stock Farm was the lifelong dream of Dr. Samuel B. Hartman. Hartman was widely known for his famous elixir, Peruna, the sales of which made him a wealthy man. After building his medicine empire in the downtown area of Columbus, he began to acquire land for his farm.
Hartman Farm was founded in 1903 on a large tract of 2400 acres on the south side of Columbus. Within several years, Hartman had increased the size of the farm to approximately 5000 acres, and it was called “the largest intensely cultivated, diversified farm in the world.” In fact, the farm frontage along US Route 23 was about four miles in length and on the west side was frontage all along the Scioto River. Nearly forty miles of neat white board fencing enclosed his fields.
Because of its diversified activities, the Hartman Stock Farm needed scores of buildings of every description. Monumental bars, a dairy building, poultry houses, grain elevators and other agricultural buildings were constructed, as well as houses and a hotel. A small red brick schoolhouse was built to educate the children of employees. When Hartman found there was no rapid transportation to carry his products to Columbus and his workers to the farm, he built his own electric railway to the city. He then constructed an electric generating plant to supply the needed power. At Hartman Farm there was a building for nearly every agricultural purpose imaginable.
The Hartman Farm soon became world-famous and was one of the greatest attractions for visitors and residents of central Ohio. It is difficult to convey in words the immensity of such a farm, which even had an electric railway to Columbus and rooms for guests to stay in while they toured the property. Suffice it to say that the Hartman Stock Farm was the largest farm of its kind in the world by 1906.
The farm was famous not only for its size but for its livestock and crops as well. Hartman bred three champion strains of horses: Arabian, German Coach and French Percheron. The Hartman Stock Farm had the world’s largest herd of registered Jersey cattle, which easily supplied milk for the entire city of Columbus. Ducks, chickens, and other poultry were raised in abundance. Hartman was always careful to select the best registered breeds of any animal he raised.
Crops produced at Hartman Farm included grapes apples, peaches, corn, and animal feed. Employees once numbered two hundred fifty.
However, the Hartman Farm was much more than just a place to raise grapes for the defunct medicine. One of the uses was as a large dairy farm. Many say that Columbus became known as "Cow Town" when southerners traveled north along Route 23 to look for work. When they passed through Hartman Farm and saw the massive dairy farm, they knew they had arrived in Columbus.
Though a mere shadow of its once glorious self, the Hartman Farm Historical District still imparts a sense of its former grandeur. While almost all the principal buildings are gone, one can yet view what remains and imagine how it must have been to visit the “largest farm in the world”.
In its centralized management and huge acreage, the Hartman Farm was an early version of the massive farming conglomerates so common today. As such it represented a break from the tradition of small, individually owned farms which was limited in the range of its products. The Hartman Farm should be preserved as an example of the move toward modern farm management techniques.
Today most of the land the Hartman Farm once occupied is a huge quarry (one of the largest in the Columbus area). Sections of I-270 were also built atop the old farmland. Only a few of the original buildings have survived, including one of the dairy barns (now a storage building for the quarry), an occupied home that sits next to a modern barn, a lonely one-room school house that has been abandoned since the 1960s, and a home along Parsons Avenue.
Unfortunately, many of the farm’s buildings are gone, the victims of economic change and the Depression. The Hartman Stock Farm has now been reduced to approximately 800 acres, but its heritage lives on. Described below are the farm’s remaining structures.
Foreman / Manager’s House:
The Manager’s house is a frame structure built in 1903. It stands two and one-half stories high and measures approximately eighty by fifty feet. Its features indicate that it is a modified Queen Anne style building. From photographs in a 1905 Hartman catalog, it appears that the house has never been altered, except for the addition of end porches. It is still in use and is in excellent condition. At one time this house had rooms for special guests of the farm as well as accommodations for the farm manager and his family.
Stock / Dairy Barn:
This barn measures approximately forty by one hundred feet, somewhat small than the horse barns nearby. It has three bays at the end and five at the sides. Of interest are the louvered Gothic windows and louvered ventilation cupolas, features found on all the Hartman bars. The Dairy Barn is currently on land leased to the Olen Corporation.
Hartman Farm Schoolhouse:
A little one-room brick building located at the intersection of Rathmell Road and US 23 served as the schoolhouse for the Hartman Farm employee’s children. It is now boarded up with many of its architectural features long removed.
In addition to the historic value the Hartman Farm holds, there is also a great deal of geological significance to be found.
The higher elevations on the land are kames, hills made of boulders and rock material dropped 3,000 feet from the glacier that once covered Central Ohio.
The large pond on the property is a kettle pond, also created by the glacial movements.
The South Well Field is one of the country's largest aquifers (underground river). This well field lies underneath and just east and south of farm property. It provides water for roughly 30% of Columbus.
Lastly, according to the "Archaeology Atlas of Ohio", there are Native American burial sites located on the property.