For countless people who drive up and down Poplar Pike in Germantown, most see a daily sight of what appears to be a little town made up of railroad memorabilia and a lot of other stuff.
But what is it really?
Sadly for most these days there is little time to stop and explore the why's of our world anymore. Those inquiries are left for those like me Whose job it is to find out what all this is about.
After checking with the Germantown News, FOX13 News learned that this was Oaklawn Garden. The home was built in 1854.
Harry Cloyes' uncle, Fritz Hussy, bought 20 acres with the house in 1918. Mr. Hussy died in 1941. Harry was born in the home in 1926 and never left.
The Cloyes family had always worked with flowers beginning with daffodils. The descendents of those flowers still bloom every spring just like they are now.
Becky Cloyes with her late husband, who passed away in 2011, worked alongside Harry since 1951 taking in donated items from the city of Germantown and anyone else who had something interesting that was part of Germantown history.
Slowly Harry's Grounds turned into an outdoor museum of everything Germantown from the past, things like the very first Germantown jail. You will find a lot of things here that will remind you of some place you have been before or something you saw your grandfather use, and have not seen since.
But for the most part everything here has some kind of tie-in with the railroad. Harry's mother, Mamie Cloyes, had a flower shop in what is now the Little Indoor Museum located next to the house. Becky helped his mother until her death in 1978.
After that, it was just Becky and Harry collecting things from the Germantown of harry's youth - an old fire truck, a ceiling light from the old Mable C. Williams High School where Harry graduated.
The Cloyes did not stop with just collecting all this stuff. They began putting together information on each item and compiled it all into a little booklet that listed each item with a corresponding number found on each item. That way when visitors could walk through the garden and see for themselves what it was they were looking at.
Then someday, when Harry and Becky were gone, the answers to what all this stuff was, would still be answered. The Cloyes greatest desire was that the little museum and the garden would remain open past Harry's death for others to enjoy.
Harry and his wife sold 14 of the acres to the city of Germantown and deeded the remaining six acres to the city with the provision that it would be preserved for 50 years after their death as a park, museum, or some other public use.
His wife still lives in the house but seldom is seen. The master gardeners keep the place up with the help of donations from visitors.
The last project Harry ever worked on his property was a caboose. He got 15 gallons of red paint from the railroad to repaint it and fix it up. He wanted everybody to come out and visit this little bit of Germantown that he loved so much. He made sure it would always stay just like this for people to come and enjoy.
So come out and check out what Harry did for most of his life.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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