Aluminum Tree & Ornament Museum (ATOM) at the Transylvania Heritage Museum takes
visitors back to the time of the space race, when modern American families had
a sparkling futuristic Christmas tree. The
trees consisted of foil needles on thin aluminum stems of varying lengths which
were inserted into angled slots on a central trunk creating a conical shaped
tree. Often an electric roto-wheel
light, placed underneath the tree, was used to add color to the shiny tree.
1962 Sears Wishbook advertised a variety of aluminum trees from a basic
two-and-half foot apartment-size at $2.29 to a seven-foot tree at $19.95. The description read, “Gleaming high luster
aluminum needles glued and mechanically locked on. Easy to assemble, stand included.”
also carried a high-end green aluminum tree that was sure to be “the most talked-about
tree in your neighborhood!” The seven-foot
tree had 22 candle-type lights and sold for only $39.95.
trees were popular from the late-1950s into the mid-1960s. The release of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in
1965 cast artificial trees as a symbol of commercialism that had risen around the
holiday and led to a decrease in their status.
Within a few years they were consigned to yard sales and thrift shops.
the past couple of decades the glitzy trees of the past have seen a resurgence
in popularity. The Transylvania Heritage
Museum at 189 West Street features aluminum trees in a variety of sizes and
colors decorated by local individuals and organizations. The ATOM exhibit is open Wednesday through
Friday, 10:00 am until 5:00 pm and Saturday, 11:00 am until 3:00 pm. It runs through Saturday, December 21.
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library
hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional
photographs. For more information, comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at