A sparkling display of aluminum Christmas trees has returned to downtown Brevard, adding a splash of tinsel to town during the holiday season.
The aluminum tree collection, which has been set out for public view sporadically over about the past 10 years, has returned to the Transylvania Heritage Museum, 189 W. Main St. in downtown Brevard. The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The last day to see the trees is Dec. 21.
The collection, owned by Brevard architect Stephen Jackson, is out for public view for the first time in four years. It’s affectionately known as the “Aluminum Tree and Aesthetically Challenged Seasonal Ornament Museum & Research Center.”
Visitors can marvel at 15 shiny trees that recall America’s love affair with the space-age fever of the 1950s and ’60s. The trees went out of style—and out of production—in the ’70s. But with popular culture’s long-lasting love of the Peanuts characters and their Christmas special (Lucy wanted an aluminum tree) and renewed interest in the ’50s and ’60s, spurred by such shows as “Mad Men,” the trees are hip again.
“A friend gave me an aluminum tree in the late 1980s as a joke,” Jackson said. “Now they’ve come back as a retro thing.”
When Jackson moved to Brevard in 1993, he held a party to introduce himself to the community and put out some of his glittering trees. His collection eventually grew to more than 100 trees. Today, he has about 80. Over the years, the trees have been set up at several different spots around town. The trees are decorated with ornaments to create individual themes. Jackson said one favorite is a tree decked out with Elvis ornaments.
The trees draw hundreds of visitors, who are asked to consider a donation to support the Heritage Museum. Jackson said it takes hours to set up the trees, which is why they haven’t been unboxed for some years. It’s also why Jackson is looking to sell his entire collection to an organization that could use them as a fundraising draw and has the staff to care for them.
The popularity of the metal masterpieces stands out in a state, and a region, where the cultivation of live Christmas trees is a thriving industry. North Carolina growers produce millions of trees on thousands of acres in Western North Carolina, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The North Carolina Fraser fir has been judged a grand champion tree by the National Christmas Tree Association for several years, including last year, the same year that the White House tree came from Peak Farms in Jefferson, N.C.
The Brevard aluminum Christmas trees have been featured in Southern Living, Money magazine and the New York Times. For more information, call the Transylvania Heritage Museum at (828) 884-2347.