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From 1921 until 1950, a substantial tree house was nestled in a huge sycamore that overhung Kreutz Creek on Brookleaf Farms in Hellam Township. Hailed as the Love Nest in 1926, it became a nice side business for the Emig brothers, as they rented it to honeymooners, vacationers and locals.

Love Nest location Pinpointed

This post pinpoints the location of the Love Nest of Hellam Township. In 1921, brothers Howard Emig and Morgan Emig built a tree house nestled in a huge sycamore that overhung Kreutz Creek on the Brookleaf Farms of their family. Substantial improvements ensued until the tree house was hailed as the Love Nest in 1926. It became a nice side business for the Emig brothers, as they rented it to honeymooners, vacationers and locals; until it burnt down in 1950.

In 1921, Howard Emig, age 26, and Morgan Emig, age 23, the youngest children of their widowed mother Mary Emig, age 60, are still living on the family farm. In 1925, Mary Emig and her other children, grant Howard Emig and Morgan Emig an undivided majority interest in the two tracts of land making up Brookleaf Farms; totaling 111-acres.

The brothers conducted a dairy business on their property. The milk bottles contained the wording: “Brookleaf Farms, Emig Bros., Hellam, PA.” The business shows up as both: Brookleaf Dairy and Emig Bros. Dairy.

The overall property boundaries of Brookleaf Farms are plotted on the following 1953 Topographic Map. Source of the property Mites and Bounds is York County Deed Book 23C, page 157; made April 4, 1925.

The property boundaries, in Hellam Township, for 111-acre farm deeded to Howard and Morgan Emig on April 4, 1925, are plotted on a 1953 Topographic Map. (Source: York County Deed Book 23C, pg. 157; Map annotated by S.H. Smith, 2023)

Note the small square region, indicated by black dashed lines annotated at the top of the topographic map; and as pointed out by: “See 1937 aerial photo of this area.” That square area is enlarged in the next illustration; except by utilizing the matching square section of a November 24, 1937, historic aerial photo. Look carefully; the shadow of the Love Nest tree house is visible.

The recently submitted upper photo, showing an early-1930s eastward view of the tree grove containing the Love Nest tree house, solidified my belief that small solid shadow, in the aerial photo, is made by the tree house. The tree house is at about 30% of the height of the tallest tree in the early-1930s photo. While in the 1937 aerial photo, the tree house shadow is in the tallest tree shadow, at about 30% of the shadow length.

Upper photo is an early-1930s eastward view of the tree grove containing Love Nest tree house. The lower 1937 aerial photo is annotated with the view direction of that photo and four additional photo views in this post. (Upper photo submitted, and November 24, 1937 aerial photo annotated by S.H. Smith, 2023)

The 1937 aerial photo is annotated with the view direction of that early-1930s eastward view and the arrows “A” through “D” are four additional ground level views that follow in this post.

View “A” shows the north side and porch of the Love Nest tree house, where a man lowers a rope and bucket to retrieve water from Kreutz Creek. Photo source is the Picture Parade section of The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 27, 1939, page 12.

View “A” shows the north side and porch of the Love Nest tree house, where a man lowers a rope and bucket to retrieve water from Kreutz Creek. (Source: Picture Parade section of The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 27, 1939, page 12)

View “B” shows the west side and porch of the Love Nest tree house, in Hellam Township, York County PA. This photo is from one of several “Brookleaf Love Nest” postcard variations that Howard and Morgan Emig had made in the late-1920s and early-1930s.

View “B” shows the west side and porch of the Love Nest tree house, in Hellam Township, York County PA. (Source: One of several “Brookleaf Love Nest” postcard variations that Howard and Morgan Emig had made in the late-1920s & early-1930s)

View “C” shows the west side and south end of the Love Nest tree house, over Kreutz Creek in Hellam Township, York Co., PA. In the distance, is the circa-1800 Sweitzer barn, which is now part of the Historic Hellam Preserve. This photo is one frame from the 1930 film “Climbing Trees to Dance” by British PATHE.

View “C” shows the west side and south end of the Love Nest tree house, over Kreutz Creek in Hellam Township, York Co., PA. In the distance, is the circa-1800 Sweitzer barn, which is now part of the Historic Hellam Preserve. (Source: Frame from 1930 film “Climbing Trees to Dance” by British PATHE.)

View “D” shows the south end of the Love Nest tree house, over Kreutz Creek in Hellam Township, York Co., PA. In the distance on the railroad between York and Wrightsville, girder deck Railroad Bridge 5.82 spans Kreutz Creek. This photo is one frame from the 1928 film “Just a Love Nest” by British PATHE.

View “D” shows the south end of the Love Nest tree house, over Kreutz Creek in Hellam Township, York Co., PA. In the distance on the railroad between York and Wrightsville, girder deck Railroad Bridge 5.82 spans Kreutz Creek. (Source: Frame from 1928 film “Just a Love Nest” by British PATHE.)

In 1947, Morgan Emig sells his interest in Brookleaf Farms to Howard Emig. Morgan moves into Hallam and lives at 214 West Market Street, and initially works at a veterinary hospital.

Howard Emig purchases additional property and continues the dairy business for a short time. Howard also adds some of his own touches to the Love Nest tree house, such as improved running water, new lighting, new decorating, and a new stove. On the evening of January 13, 1950, the Love Nest tree house was destroyed by fire. The Hallam firemen believed the fire was intentionally set.

Howard Emig owned Brookleaf Farms until 1969, when he sold the 111-acre property to Eastern York School District as the potential site of a future middle school. When the school district selected another site, they sold the property to Herman Strausbaugh in 1977. The Strausbaugh family still owns the property. The former Love Nest tree house site is on private property; ask permission before attempting to visit the site.

Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos in this post.

Links to related posts include:

Hellam Love Nest featured in British Films

Details about Mahlon Haines’ Churchill Downs near Hallam

The Log House in Historic Hellam Preserve

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts