In a small area of Fairless Hills, the Vermillion Hills community has welcomed a mystical family into their midst: gnomes.
Lovingly dubbed the “Gnome Home,” this humble abode was created out of a large tree stump by Jack Donohue and his family, complete with a hand-built roof and window frames.
“It’s a whimsical thing,” says Jack’s mother-in-law Shirley Shultz, who first alerted the Fairless Focus to this imaginative staple of the community.
“I’ve been thinking all along, ‘this should be in the paper,’” Shirley said.
Before the tree was cut down by Falls Township this past August, Jack had previously decorated around its trunk with mulch, flowers, and leftover pavers from a neighbor.
This has now become the Gnome Home’s yard, with tiny toadstools and more.
“In this miserable time, people need something like this to lighten their spirits,” said Shirley.
Jack received permission from the township to create the Gnome Home before they cut the stump down completely, leaving enough trunk for the home to stand tall and proud.
His son, a carpenter, helped create window frames and a realistic roof from leftover woodwork materials.
The most recent addition is a chimney his son made from weather-resistant plyboard, painted to resemble bricks. Once this is added, the Gnome Home will be even more complete (and the gnomes will be able to enjoy fires in the winter!).
So far, the gnomes have been weathering the seasons well, though they’ve spent much of this winter snowed in.
The community has embraced the Gnome Home in unforeseen ways.
“We’ve had so many families walk up to take family photos with it,” Jack says. “People stop their cars to look, and ask if I made it. All day long on Christmas Day, people came. It’s been fun watching people visit it throughout the pandemic.”
The whimsical creation has sparked a bright spot of joy for the community, something they all want to share in.
Neighbors have added to the Gnome Home with decorations and shiny rocks, and gnomes of all size and theme (including a Phillies fan and firefighter) have found residence in the renovated stump.
“Little kids come over and leave little messages for the gnomes,” Jack says. “A lot of kids get pleasure out of it, that’s what I love seeing.”
Since its creation, the gnome home has undergone numerous changes, including a sign declaring it the “Gnome Home”.
“Neighborhood kids think fairies and hobbits live there,” says Jack’s wife, Sue.
The Gnome Home has been appropriately decorated for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day since its creation, and the future can only tell all that lies in store for the gnomes of Vermillion Hills.
St. Patty’s Day and Easter décor were the latest festive additions to the gnome residence.
For so many residents, it’s only added to the charm of living in Falls Township, and beyond.
Anyone is welcome to visit the Gnome Home, but please respect the gnomes.
“I like gnomes,” Jack said. “It’s a good place.”
PHOTO CAP: Jack Donohue with his grandsons, from left, Owen, Jack, Chase, Connor and Liam.