Historic Markers Across Georgia

The Christmas Tree House

Marker ID:  
Location: at 305 Heard St, Elberton, GA.
County: Elbert
Coordinates: N 34° 6.461    W 082° 51.688
  34.10768333    -82.86146666
Style: Carved Stone **
Waymark: WM8A19
The Christmas Tree House Marker  


The Christmas Tree House at 305 Heard Street was built as the home of the George Loehr family, who introduced to Elberton and the Rest of Georgia their native German practice of celebrating Christmas with a candle-lit tree; and the house received its name from this special role the family and their house played in the history of the city and state.

On October 30 1858, George Loehr purchased a lot measuring four acres on present day Heard Street, known then as the road from Petersburg to Elberton, and subsequently constructed his home upon it. Local historian Herbert Wilcox relates, in Georgia Scribe (1974), that Loehr and his wife, the former Henretta Leopole, set up their first Christmas tree in their new home in honor of the birth of their first child. The lighted candles probably were used to continue the German Christian practice of symbolizing Christ as the Light of the World. During their years in the house, Loehr,a skilled cabinet maker, carved wooden toys to put under the tree and placed a small picket fence around the tree to protect the children from the candle flames.

In later years, Mrs.J.F.Ross and Mrs.S.A.Gaines, two of the Loehrs´ grandchildren, reminisced about the historic tradition their grandparents had established. Mrs.Ross, whose mother was the youngest child of the three girls and three boys, recited many of her mother´s tales of how the Loehr children would sit under the tree, playing with the wooden figures, which sat on a kind of artificial grass; and she spoke of visits to the Christmas Tree House, where she was allowed to see the wooden animals, which were preserved carefully at the time but lost later, Mrs. Ross also quoted her mother as saying that the practice of celebrating Christmas with a tree spread throughout the state in a very short period of time, Wilcox demonstrates the significance Of the Loehrs´ introduction of the custom to Elberton by noting that their tree appeared in Elberton only a few years after the first.

According to a 1951 article in The Elberton Star, the Loehr family sold the Christmas Tree House to McAlpin Arnold and moved to Dewey Rose, around 1875. An Elbert County Historical Society brochure (1977) notes that the house was moved from another part of the lot to this spot by Arnold and that T.O. Tabor, Jr., who lived there at a later date, added a half story upstairs, After serving as the home of the Elbert County Historical Society for a short period in the late 20th century, the house is now owned by David Powell and has been the site of his Landmark Realty Company since 1990.

The Christmas Tree House
The Christmas Tree House