In 1994, volunteers raising funds for the restoration of the Tenney Gate House conceived of the idea of holding a Christmas fundraiser featuring fully decorated Christmas trees, to help pay for the expensive restoration and preservation costs associated with this project.
The Gate House was an 1830′s farmhouse that was purchased by industrialist Charles H. Tenney in 1883. Tenney purchased the Whittier farmhouse and 75 acres behind it to build a palatial summer home. During the construction of his grand chateau, Charles Tenney lived in the Gate House and made improvements and architectural changes to the House for the comfort of his family. After completion of his chateau in 1891, Mr. Tenney made this charming house the gate house for his new home, Greycourt.
The volunteers who were part of the Tenney Gate House Restoration Committee were successful in saving the Gate House from destruction. The tree festival they started in 1994 showcased 18 trees and raised a modest $3,100.00. The Festival of Trees is now at capacity displaying 235 trees in 2011. The success of The Festival of Trees raised the necessary funding for the restoration of the Gate House and today provides grants to historic preservation projects throughout the Merrimack Valley.
Now in its 19th year, This Methuen Event is the largest such Festival of Trees in New England and one of the largest in the country. Over 27,000 people from over 398 cities and towns in Massachusetts have visited the annual event. Attendees include representation from all the New England States, as well as points as distant as Texas, California and even Great Britain!
Trees from the Festival of Trees have graced the cover of the Boston Globe Magazine; have been featured in Northshore Magazine, Merrimack Valley Magazine, The Boston Globe and many additional newspapers and other media outlets throughout the state. In addition, the Festival has been featured on the Boston’s Channel 5 Chronicle show as well as Boston television stations 4 and 7, New England Cable News (NECN) and New Hampshire Channel 9.