March 30, 2020

First Public Christmas Tree: A Herreshoff Invention

Ever wondered who first came up with the idea to have a public Christmas tree in NYC? Emilie Herreshoff is credited with the idea.

A photo of Emilie Duval Lee Herreshoff from the HMM historic photo collection. It is from an album of family snapshots dated 1906 and 1907, and appears to have been taken in 1907 in New York. The photo album was donated to the Herreshoff Marine Museum by Emilie’s grandson, Norman Herreshoff.

Read More at The Chicago Tribune &

Hutchinson’s idea was not original, but part of a nascent movement. In 1912, philanthropist Emilie Duval Lee Herreshoff came to the New York City’s commissioner of parks with an idea. She would purchase a tall Christmas tree to be erected in Madison Square Park — not indoors — to be seen by all. “It was to speak the Christmas message to all who might see it, and to the lonely and sad who might have no other tree,” she said in a later interview.

by Kori Rumore of The Chicago Tribune

The idea came for the tree came from Emilie D. Lee Herreshoff, the 49-year-old wife of a prominent chemical scientist. After witnessing a rise in social causes related to the city’s poor, she proposed the tree as a way to allow everyone, especially those who couldn’t afford a tree of their own, to participate in a lighting.

by Michelle Cohen of