Hemlock Farms was originally a magnificent wildlife sanctuary with rolling hills and boundless beauty purchased by the William Brewster family in 1927. Over the next few decades the Brewster’s purchased other contiguous properties to increase their holdings to over 4,500 acres. In addition, the family built interior roads, the main house, stables, lakes and other amenities for the many family activities. The Steer Barn was one of the last buildings erected to house the steers he kept on the dairy farm. Other Brewster buildings included the milking barn, carpenter shop, ice house, garages, staff cottages and guest houses. The family called the retreat “Camp Hemlock” and did much entertaining over the years with family friends and business associates.
It has been widely reported that President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Great Britain’s Winston Churchill met at the Brewster estate during World War II. While Roosevelt and Churchill had many secret meetings and considered each other close friends, the two world leaders corresponded almost on a daily basis during the war and had great mutual admiration for one another. They had many secret meetings that took place on war ships in the middle of the ocean, at secret island locations and at the Roosevelt home in Hyde Park, New York, but there is no documentation they had ever met in the Pocono’s.
The Brewster family owned the “George M. Brewster & Son, General Contractors” and was involved in huge construction projects in New York and surrounding area, including construction work on the roadbed of the George Washington Bridge, the approaches
leading to the Lincoln Tunnel, sections of the New Jersey Turnpike, as well as work on the Scranton/Wilkes Barre International Airport in Avoca. Locally, the family business built most of Route 402 in Pike County. The Brewster family knew construction and spared no expense when building Camp Hemlock with native stone and local timbers. To provide access for his amphibious plane Brewster dredged Hemlock Pond, built the dam and created Lower Lake as it is known today. When the family business began having problems in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the estate was put on the market. It didn’t take long for Western Heritage Properties Limited from Ontario, Canada to purchase the 4,500 acre property in January, 1963 for $700,000.00. Initially the developer considered proposing as many as 8,000 homes to be built on the tract. Thankfully, that proposal never got off the ground and the community ended up with less than half that amount. The purchase price was considered high. However, after considering the many amenities that were included in the sale it actually was a bargain price for the new developer.
Today, Hemlock Farms is surrounded by over 84,000 acres of state and federal forest lands. In addition to the state and federal lands the community is also surrounded by private hunting and fishing clubs, such as Blooming Grove, Blue Heron and Porter’s Lake. Between June of 1963 and June of 1964 the developer was already selling lots for sale with full page advertisements appearing in the New York Times magazine section and the Philadelphia Inquirer. In addition, parcels of land were deeded to the Catholic Church, the Ecumenical Church of Hemlock Farms and the Jewish Fellowship. The Steer Barn was used for community meetings and social events.
In 1966, the original Teen Complex was built which is now the Day Camp Building. By 1969 the Hemlock Farms Volunteer Ambulance Corps was formed and the first ambulance was delivered. Shortly thereafter, the Hemlock Farms Volunteer Ambulance Corps Woman’s Auxiliary was established as well as the Volunteer Fire Company. By the summer of 1972 Hemlock’s 4th lake was completed when Elm beach was opened and ready for use.
“There is no greater time for any community than the day the developers are gone and the community controls its own destiny”.
In 1973 – 1975 Hemlock Farms Community Association made major steps forward when an agreement was negotiated with the Developer to make improvements in the Steer Barn and provide other amenities, and to turn over all lands and properties prior to the developer leaving. By 1979 the Hemlock Farms membership approved final settlement of all outstanding issues with the developer. This agreement made Hemlock Farms Community Association (HFCA) independent of the Developer and assumed control of the water company, all roads and amenities. This landmark decision was approved by the membership on April 28, 1979 with final settlement taking place with the Developer two months later on June 22, 1979. There is no greater time for any community than the day the developers are gone and the community controls its own destiny.
The 1980’s saw Hemlock grow dramatically and the association needed to keep pace with the growth. For years there was talk of a new indoor pool. In 1987 the membership approved construction of the project but when the bids came in too high the project was temporarily scrapped. In 1990 the membership approved three new building projects – a Community Club with indoor pool at $1.8 million, a new Mail Room at $300,000 and a new Administration Building at $500,000.
The Indoor Pool and Recreation Center’s grand opening was held on leap year day February 29, 1992. A huge crown attended in zero degree temperatures. By this time the community already had almost 2,500 homes.
By the year 2000 the community continued to flourish and prosper. New home construction continued to grow with over 3,100 homes at the present time. From the 1960’s through the 1980’s Hemlock was considered a vacation home community, but as the 1990’s approached and Hemlock entered the new millennium there seemed to be a dramatic transformation from “vacation” home residents to “primary” residents where families began living at Hemlock year round.
In 2001 Hemlock dramatically updated their water system with the construction of a new one million gallon water storage tank. In 2003 the community broke ground for the new Public Safety Building. A year later membership approved the expenditure of $400,000 for the purchase of 36 acres of land adjacent to Rite Aid and Hemlock Farms between Overlook Drive and the million gallon water facility. Many community residents are in favor of using the property for a new entrance way to Hemlock Farms.
From its conception 45 years ago Hemlock Farms has not forgotten its historic past and architectural heritage. Many of the original buildings on the Brewster estate had a common theme by using brown clapboard siding, red windows with green trim and blue fascia board.
“The best way for Hemlock Farms to perpetuate the Brewster legacy was by taking the architectural heritage from the past and making it part of the future.”
Hemlock has continued that architectural tradition by building the Clubhouse and Indoor Pool, the Public Safety building, the Mail Room and the Administration building in that same theme. The best way for Hemlock Farms to perpetuate the Brewster legacy was by taking the architectural heritage from the past and making it part of the future.
The backbone of Hemlock Farms has always been with its membership dating back to 1963. When the Hemlock Farms Community Association was founded back in the 1960’s it always strived to benefit all its members. The Board of Directors has a challenge to impeccably maintain the roads, the water system and amenities, yet hold the line on association dues. For many years the Board has successfully carried out this principle with the help of a number of standing committees that have worked diligently for the betterment of the association and its membership. Today there are 11 important committees that contribute to the success of Hemlock Farms including: Appeals, Architectural, Official Publication and Public Information, Elections, Finance, Planning and Land Use, Public Health, Safety and Security, Public Works and Physical Properties, Recreation, and Environmental.
Hemlock Farms continues to set the standard for other communities to be judged by. Its future is as bright as its past. The Community Association coupled with its many dedicated volunteers insures itself of a future that has no limits