By SARA ARTHURS
The Barbara and Ed Heminger Memorial Garden at the Hancock Historical Museum will be dedicated at a ceremony Thursday night.
The late Ed Heminger, who was publisher and editor of The Courier, and chairman of the Findlay Publishing Co., was one of the five founders of the museum.
The museum had a capital campaign underway at the time of his death in 2011. Those working on the capital campaign came up with the idea of the garden as a way to memorialize both Ed and his wife, Barbara.
The Findlay Rotary Club raised $50,000 to pay for the project.
“Ed was a Rotarian and … he lived his life by the principles of Rotary,” said Sarah Sisser, executive director of the museum.
She said the Rotary Club was “very committed” to the project. The club’s immediate past president, Char Simons, said Ed Heminger, a long-standing member of the club, was one of the “quiet heroes” of the community who “exemplified the Rotary model of service above self.”
The biggest source of fundraising was the Rotathlon, a multi-sport event Rotary held last year. There were also funds provided through Rotary’s foundation as well as “a number of individual gifts,” Simons said.
The garden is situated between the museum’s new Marathon Petroleum Corp. Energy and Transportation Annex and the Crawford School building, which is also owned by the museum. The garden’s backdrop is one of the walls of the historic Crawford School, built in the 1880s.
“A significant part of this project was restoring that wall,” Sisser said.
Patrons normally enter the museum from Sandusky Street, but the building and garden front onto Putnam Street. Sisser hopes that, with the development of the new Marathon Center for the Performing Arts nearby, this will create “a new corridor.”
Stratton Greenhouses created the garden, which was designed by Susie Stratton. Tim Brugeman, former Hancock Park District director, was also instrumental in developing the idea and figuring out where to situate the garden, Sisser said.
In addition to plants, there are “a lot of artifacts” of historical significance to the community, including pieces of the former downtown Argyle Building. “When that burned we were given some of the architectural details,” Sisser said. In addition, the garden includes some pieces of Findlay’s original municipal building. Sisser called it a “juxtaposition of very contemporary and historic pieces.”
The garden is framed by Arborvitae shrubs which will gradually grow up to create a “secret garden,” Sisser said, adding that it will be a “very tranquil” space. Along one wall are climbing hydrangeas. “Those will grow up to kind of cover and soften this wall,” she said.
Roses are also present, both “Double Knockout” roses which will bloom throughout the year as well as climbing roses.
In the back are junipers.
“It’s a nice, peaceful place for reflection,” Sisser said. She added that, with the museum’s new building, “it really ties the campus together.”
Longtime Heminger friend Bill Ruse said the garden will create a space for “peaceful reflection” and “a feeling of serenity.”
Ruse, a Rotary member, said he viewed both Ed and Barbara Heminger as “the guardian angels of the community” and said both felt the museum was “something that the community needed.” “They worked so hard and dedicated so much to it to make it accessible,” Ruse said.
And when the museum wanted to expand, or was raising funds for any reason, “there was always Ed Heminger in the background,” Ruse said.
Thursday’s dedication ceremony, a private event, will be a tribute to the Hemingers. Sisser said guests will have the opportunity to write their memories of the Hemingers on a “memory tree.” The event is open to all Rotary members and all museum members.
Last weekend, the garden was open to the public as part of the museum’s ninth annual Back Street Festival. Another public event will be held at the garden on Oct. 25, when the museum holds its Spooktacular celebration.
The garden is also open to the public during regular museum hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The garden has also been used for a few private events. In addition to being a beautiful space, “it’s going to be a very functional space for us,” Sisser said.
Sisser, who came to the museum after Ed Heminger’s death, said working on the garden project has been an opportunity for her to get to know him, in a sense.
“I hear, almost on a daily basis” what an impact he had, she said.
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