Methuen’s Festival of Trees is a celebrated tradition in the Merrimack Valley, and photos of the beautifully-designed trees and wreaths have regularly graced the pages of mvm. But while kindling the holiday spirits may be the main draw for the more than 27,000 visitors who come to enjoy Methuen’s holiday celebration, it’s important to remember that the event was established to aid in the preservation and restoration of important historic sites in the region.
Such preservation and restoration requires funding, and that need inspired a group of Methuen volunteers working on the restoration of the 1830s-era Tenney Gatehouse to raise money by holding a Christmas celebration featuring lavishly-adorned trees. The first event, held in 1994, showcased only 17 trees and brought in just over $3,000.
Those humble beginnings pale in comparison to what the Festival of Trees brings in now. The Valley Office Park, where the event is held, can display more than 240 of the gorgeously decorated creations — and with people coming from all over New England (and sometimes from other parts of the country) to see them, the festival has raised more than $100,000 annually over the last few years for historical causes. Since 1994, more than $1.5 million has been raised.
Where does the money go? In addition to the Tenney Gatehouse project, the Festival of Trees has funded the preservation and restoration of many other Merrimack Valley treasures. Among them: the Nevins Memorial Library, the Whistler House Museum of Art and Methuen Memorial Music Hall, including its massive “Great Organ,” once regarded as the largest in the nation.
For more information visit methuenfestivaloftrees.com