|Lemon Grove, Oxford, Pennsylvania
|Edsel Owners Club Tribute November 2015 The Big E Newsletter
|Click here to view Roadside Attractions list.
|In Memory of Hugh Lesley 1932—2015 Edsel Collector and Owner of the Famous "Lemon Grove"
The Edsel Owners Club and the Edsel hobby lost a very well-known and a valuable member and friend when Hugh Lesley passed away on October 22, 2015. He was just one month shy of turning 83. He had been a member of the EOC since the very early days of the club.
Hugh, a farmer in Oxford, Pennsylvania, gained fame for having one of the largest collections of Edsels in the country, as he had over 150 Edsels. He appeared on national news and in newspapers to discuss his Edsel collection, named the "Lemon Grove," which was located in the back woods of his farm.
When the Edsel was unveiled in 1957, a young Hugh Lesley wanted one but he could not afford a new car. After the Edsel was discontinued, Hugh was able to purchase a nearly new Edsel convertible for $750.
Throughout the 1960's and 1970's, Hugh began picking up more Edsels at bargain prices. Car dealers who took Edsels as trade-ins would happily dump them off at the Lemon Grove. Farmers who had Edsels languishing in their barns gladly sold them to Lesley.
While some people may have been critical of Hugh for allowing many Edsels to sit out in the elements, he did save them from being scrapped. Had Hugh not bought up these Edsels, they probably would have ended up in junkyards only to be scrapped to oblivion. Hugh used his mechanical skills to rebuild some and salvage parts from the others. He was willing to sell parts off some of the rough, unrestorable Edsels, and he had a valuable skill in knowing how to repair tele touch shift-motors for other Edsel owners. He also allowed fellow Edsel buffs to take tours of the Lemon Grove.
Unfortunately, the damp, humid climate of Pennsylvania was not too kind to the cars that were stored outdoors in Hugh's collection. They did not stand up as well as some of the other large Edsel collections have, namely Jim Koch's of Sacramento, California, and LeRoy Walker's of Beulah, North Dakota. Hugh did erect several storage barns to shelter the better Edsels in his collection. His shelters were rather well organized as he had only big series '58s in one shelter, '58 wagons in another shelter, and had his other Ford Motor Company productions in other shelters.
When Hugh was in his mid-70s, he decided to have his collection dispersed and cars were offered individually in a large auction around 2006. He did keep a few of his most favorite cars and remained active in the hobby to the end.
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