MARY ANN ESPOSITO OF CIAO ITALIA TO APPEAR AT 2013 EMERALD ANNIVERSARY TASTE OF THE FESTIVAL

Methuen, MA, September 18, 2013 – The 20th Festival of Trees will kick off with the Emerald Anniversary Taste of the Festival on Friday, November 22, 2013 with special guest, celebrity Chef Mary Ann Esposito, of the famed cooking series Ciao Italia. This culinary celebration, officially opening the 20th Anniversary Festival of Trees, will showcase signature dishes from many local restaurants as well as the unveiling of more than 240 spectacular Christmas trees and wreaths.
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Festival of Trees Will Celebrate 20 years

METHUEN, MA (May 6, 2013) – The Festival of Trees, Inc. proudly announces its 20th Emerald Anniversary year of celebration. Over the past two decades, The Festival of Trees has grown to become one of the most visited holiday events in New England as well as the largest contributor to historic preservation throughout the Merrimack Valley and its surrounding communities.

Twenty years ago, the Festival of Trees was begun as a fundraiser to support the restoration of the historic Tenney Gate House in Methuen. A small group of volunteers planned a weekend holiday event at the Nevins Memorial Library ¬– a viewing of 17 decorated Christmas Trees that were raffled off to visitors. By the second year, the event was a community hit and outgrew the space. To accommodate more trees and the growing number of visitors, the Festival moved to the Red Tavern, Masonic Lodge and Tenney Gate House. By 2003, the Festival of Trees had grown from 17 trees to 200 when the Brooks family invited the organization to its spacious quarters at 13 Branch Street in Methuen, which has now become the home of The Festival of Trees.

Twenty years later, the Festival of Trees is the largest Festival in New England and is the model and inspiration for many other Festivals in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. More than 1000 people, businesses and organizations have donated trees and 1500 volunteers have donated their time. The Festival attracts over 27,000 visitors annually from 14 states and over 380 communities who come to view 240 beautifully decorated trees and wreathes. Festival participants include school children of all ages, businesses, organizations and people who annually enjoy the fun of decorating a tree and making an important contribution to the heritage of their communities.

Today, the mission of the Festival of Trees remains historic preservation. Over the last two decades, the Festival has provided over $1.4 million in grants to over 140 preservation projects throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Its commitment to preservation has helped preserve the priceless treasures that shape the landscape of the Merrimack Valley and beyond.

“We started this event with the purpose to restore and preserve our heritage here in Methuen and due to its growth and success over the past 19 years, we are now helping to do the same in many of our surrounding communities,” said Ann Guastaferro, President of the Festival of Trees. “In honor of our 20th Anniversary, we will be hosting special events throughout the year to showcase the work of the Festival and to recognize and give thanks to the community for helping to make the Festival a great success story.”

In celebration of this 20-year milestone, the Festival of Trees has chosen the 20th Anniversary gemstone and Pantone Color of the Year, Emerald Green, as the theme for the celebrations being planned. They include:

An Emerald Evening – An evening of appreciation, recognition and community will take place on Friday, May 31, 2013 at 13 Branch Street, the home of the Festival of Trees. This special event will recognize the beginnings of the Festival, its founders and highlight the many restoration projects it has funded over the past 19 years. The evening will feature a cocktail reception and elegant dinner stations. A multi-media retrospective of this incredible holiday event and the people, organizations and businesses which have contributed to its success will be presented. In addition, there will be a raffle for a chance to win an emerald and diamond necklace generously donated by Charles Beauty Wellness. Tickets are $65.00 and can be purchased online at www.methuenfestivaloftrees.com.

Treasure Hunt – A community wide treasure hunt will kick off on September 1, 2013 and run through the 20th Festival of Trees. Participants can register on the FOT website at www.methuenfestivaloftrees.com and download a treasure map to begin the journey through some of Methuen’s most historic places in search of clues to win a trip to the Emerald Isle –Ireland.

Festival-in-the-Trees Family Day – A family fun day at Methuen’s Greycourt Park will take place on September 7, 2013. This community appreciation day will feature music, food and fun for the entire family.

The Emerald Anniversary Festival of Trees – The 20th Festival of Tress will open on Saturday, November 23, 2013 and will once again feature more than 240 beautiful trees, wreathes and fun events for children. The Festival will begin with the annual “Taste of the Festival” featuring wonderful Merrimack Valley eateries and a signature Chef. In celebration of the Emerald Anniversary, all visitors who purchase tree raffle chances will also be entered into a special drawing for a chance to win a $2,000 emerald ring, which has been donated, by Nazarian Jewelers of Salem, NH, Andover and Newburyport, MA.

For more information, pleases visit www.methuenfestivaloftrees.com.

About the Festival of Trees

The Festival of Trees was started as a fundraiser to benefit the last stages of restoration on the historic Tenney Gatehouse in Methuen, MA in 1994. It is a magical event held annually by The Festival of Trees, Inc. to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season. The proceeds from the Festival of Trees provide funding to preserve the heritage and the monuments that make Methuen and the communities of the Merrimack Valley unique. The Festival of Trees has been a catalyst for historical preservation and has contributed over $1.4 million dollars to fund over 140 preservation projects throughout the Merrimack Valley and beyond.

Celebrated Boston Chef Paul Wahlberg to Appear At Fourth Annual Taste of The Festival

The holiday spirit will come alive within the Methuen community on Friday, November 16th, when the Fourth Annual Taste Of The Festival takes place with special guest appearance by chef and restaurateur Paul Wahlberg of Hingham’s Alma Nove and Wahlburgers. This culinary celebration features specialty foods from 25 local restaurants as well as the unveiling of more than 225 spectacular Christmas trees to kick off the 19th Annual Festival of Trees.

“We are so thrilled to have the talented Chef Paul Wahlberg as our very special guest for this magical event that showcases the wonderful cuisine the Merrimack Valley has to offer and kicks off the 19th Annual Festival of Trees,” said Ann Guastaferro, president of the Festival of Trees. “Having someone of his caliber will bring great excitement for both guests and participating restaurants.”

Paul Wahlberg has been a noted chef in many of Boston’s top kitchens, including The Four Seasons and The Charles Hotel. His lifelong dream of owning his own restaurant came true in the summer of 2010 when he opened the upscale Alma Nove with the help of his famous brothers, actors Mark and Donnie Wahlberg. They recently opened their second restaurant, Wahlburgers, a tribute to one of their family’s favorite dinners.

“It’s nice to step out of the kitchen and participate in a wonderful fundraising event such as this,” said Chef Paul Wahlberg. “Not only is it a chance to meet people from other communities but also a great way to discover new dishes and restaurants.”

The Taste of the Festival is Friday, Nov. 16, from 6-10 p.m. Tickets are $50.00 and can be purchased by calling 603-893-2288 or by going to www.methuenfestivaloftrees.com by November 1 (Tickets are limited to 400 guests). The Festival of Trees officially opens Nov. 17 and runs through Dec 1. It’s open weekdays from 5-9 p.m., and on weekends from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving. General Admission is $10 and children under 12 are free.

Annual Dinner Awards

The Festival of Trees, Inc. held their Annual Meeting on Monday,June 25th, at 13 Branch Street, the home of the Annual Festival of Trees event. The meeting is a celebration of the work of the Festival of Trees and its historic preservation mission. To date, the Festival has spent $1.2 million dollars to support over 140 preservation projects throughout the Merrimack Valley.

Every year the Festival of Trees honors an individual who has a demonstrated a commitment to preserving the history of the Merrimack Valley with its Preservation Award. This year’s recipient was David A. D’Apice, Founder of The Simon Group in No. Andover, MA. A graduate of Boston College with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and an MBA from the University of Lowell, David started his marketing business in The Searles Building in Methuen. David has shown a true commitment to the preservation of historic structures throughout Massachusetts. He has been involved in multiple period building restoration projects in Billerica, Burlington, Woburn and Boxford, MA. Most recently, he has undertaken the structural restoration of the Kimball Forge Iron Works in Boxford, an 18th century water-powered mill and subsequently the home of the Byam and Carlton Match Factory during the Civil War. He has authored two books on the history of Billerica, MA entitled Images of America – Billerica and The Postcard Series of Billerica, based largely on his own collection of historic documents. In addition, he has successfully digitized over 2,000 of Billerica’s earliest records in an effort to create a public database of these rare manuscripts for the town, as well digitizing rare documents in partnership with the Mogan Center in Lowell, MA.

David was the youngest Historical Commissioner for the Town of Burlington, appointed when he was in his teens and since has served on the Board of Directors of a number of organizations, including The Boys and Girls Club and the Billerica Historical Society. Over the years, he has held memberships at the Bennett Public Library, The Burlington Historical Society, The North Andover Historical Society and the Boxford Historical Society. In addition, he has had a long-time association with the Methuen Historical Society and the Festival of Trees since its inception.

“It’s wonderful to recognize someone who is committed to our cause and has made a tangible difference in preserving the heritage of so many communities,” said Ann Guastaferro, President of the Festival of Trees. “David’s dedication and knowledge truly helps support the mission of the Festival of Trees.”

In addition to the Preservation Award, David was presented with citations from Methuen Mayor Stephen N. Zanni and State Representative Linda Dean Campbell. Other awards presented during the event were $1,000 Festival of Trees Scholarships to two area students. The first awarded to Methuen High School student Petty Kim for her many years of volunteer work at the Festival. The second awarded to Andover High School student Robert M. Hsu who will be going on to study historic preservation at Washington University in St. Louis. Also honored was Ms. Julie Brooks of Brooks Properties in Methuen for her continued support and assistance to the Festival of Trees and outgoing board members Kathy George of Windham, NH, Patti Mimms and Lori Newell, both of Methuen.

The following 2012 Festival of Trees preservation grant recipients were highlighted during the event: The Forest Street Union Church in Methuen; St. Paul’s Church in Newburyport, MA; The Old Meetinghouse in Sandown, NH; The Rocks Village Hand Tub House in Haverhill, MA; The Union Congregational Church in Amesbury, MA; and the Hampstead Meetinghouse in Hampstead, NH.

The Festival of Trees will kick off its 19th year on November 17, 2012 and will run through December 1, 2012.

Methuen non-profit helps fund restoration of historic firehouse in Haverhill

The Festival of Trees, Inc. has awarded a $10,000 Historic Preservation Grant to Rocks Village Memorial Association to help fund the restoration of the 1840 Handtub House in the Rocks Village historic district of Haverhill.  The historic firehouse serves as a meetinghouse for social and community activities within the Rocks Village and the City of Haverhill. Due to environmental elements and age, the structure’s foundation has disintegrated over the years causing substantial instability to the building and will be at further risk if not stabilized in the near future.

“The city of Haverhill is deeply appreciative of the generous grant from the Festival of Trees in Methuen. This grant enables us to preserve part of Haverhill’s history: the Handtub House in Rocks Village,” said Mayor James Fiorentini.  “The Rocks Village neighborhood is so rich in history going back to the first settlers of Haverhill. The Handtub House is a critical part of our history. Over the years, the Handtub House has fallen into disrepair. This grant allows us to preserve our history and preserve this beautiful neighborhood.”

The association enlisted Structures North Consulting Engineers, Inc. of Salem, MA to prepare an analysis and design specifications for the repair of the failing foundation.  It was determined that the structure is currently in an emergency situation. With the help of the Festival of Trees preservation grant, they will have the funds for a portion of the much-needed repairs.  EaglePoint Builders of Belmont, MA has been hired to execute the restoration work.  Elements of the restoration project include the following:

  • Replacing and stabilizing masonry walls and foundation to prevent further damage caused by water run-off.
  • Repointing and cementing entire foundation of structure.
  • Replacing and or repairing existing brick pier lally columns throughout the basement.
  • Constructing new drywell to divert water run-off.

“We are thrilled to receive a Historic Preservation Grant from the Methuen Festival of Trees.  Our association’s efforts to preserve this building have been accelerated as a result of this grant, for that we are grateful, “ said Christine Kwitchoff, member of the Rocks Village Memorial Association.

The Festival of Trees raises money through its annual event to fund historic preservation and restoration in the city of Methuen and throughout the Merrimack Valley.  Local businesses housed in historic properties, individual homeowners of historic homes, as well as public historic entities are encouraged each year to apply for the Festival of Trees grant program to help fund area preservation efforts.

“We started this event with the purpose to restore and preserve our heritage here in Methuen and now we are helping to do the same in many of our surrounding communities,” said Ann Guastaferro, President of the Festival of Trees.

To date, the Festival has spent $1.2 million dollars to fund over 146 preservation project grants throughout the Merrimack Valley.  The Festival of Trees will kick off its 19th year on November 17, 2012 and will run through December 1, 2012.

The Rocks Village Memorial Association is hosting a “Bridge Closing” party on Saturday, June 16, from 6:00-8:00 p.m.  Suggested donation is $10.00 and all proceeds benefit the restoration of the historic Handtub House. The Rocks Bridge connecting Haverhill To West Newbury will close for restoration on June 18th.

Methuen non-profit donates more than $50,000 to help fund 6 local preservation projects

The Festival of Trees, Inc. is proud to announce the recipients of its 2012 Preservation Grant Program.  This Methuen-based non-profit organization raises money through its annual Festival of Trees event to fund historic preservation and restoration in the city of Methuen and throughout the Merrimack Valley.  Local businesses housed in historic properties, individual homeowners of historic homes, as well as public historic entities are encouraged each year to apply for the Festival of Trees grant program to help fund area preservation efforts.  This year’s recipients are as follows:

  • Forest Street Union Church (Methuen, MA): $19,950.00 donated to repair and upgrade the leather nuts and manual pipes of the Searles Organ, built by Ernest Skinner and Sons in 1898.
  • St. Paul’s Church (Newburyport, MA): $10,000 donated to fund the restoration of the 1862 Williams Stevens organ in the St. Anna’s Chapel.
  • Old Meetinghouse (Sandown, NH): $10,000 donated to repair the exterior of building as well as replace cracked or broken glass windowpanes.
  • City of Haverhill/Hand Tub House (Haverhill, MA): $10,000 donated to restore the masonry foundation of the 1840 Hand Tub House which serves as a meeting house to hold social and community activities.
  • Union Congregational Church (Amesbury, MA): $6,000 donated to restore the historic windows in the 1835 church sanctuary.
  • Hampstead Meetinghouse (Hampstead, NH): $1,335.00 donated to repair and restore the balustrade of the belfry deck level of the meetinghouse tower.

“We started this event with the purpose to restore and preserve our heritage here in Methuen and now we are helping to do the same in many of our surrounding communities,” said Ann Guastaferro, President of the Festival of Trees.  “We have had a sizeable increase in grant applications over the past few years and our goal is to help fund as many of these wonderful projects as we can.”

To date, the Festival has spent $1.150 million dollars to fund over 102 preservation project grants throughout the Merrimack Valley.  The Festival of Trees will kick off its 19th year on November 17, 2012 and will run through December 1, 2012.

PHANTOM GOURMET’S ANDELMAN BROTHERS TO HOST THIRD ANNUAL TASTE OF THE FESTIVAL TO KICK OFF THE 18TH FESTIVAL OF TREES

Famed food critics host culinary celebration featuring great local fare and lighting of more than 225 holiday trees.

METHUEN, MA (October 20, 2011) – The Festival of Trees announces the third Annual Taste of the Festival on Friday, November 18, 2011 with special guest hosts the Andelman brothers, founders of the famed food-related television show The Phantom Gourmet. This culinary celebration features specialty foods from more than 20 local restaurants as well as the unveiling of more than 225 spectacular Christmas Trees to kick off the 18th Annual Festival of Trees. “We are so thrilled to have the talented Andelman brothers to help us us kick  off the 2011 Taste of the Festival showcasing some of the wonderful cuisine the Merrimack Valley has to offer,” said Ann Guastaferro, president of the Festival of Trees. “Thanks to their generosity and that of the participating restaurants, guests will have an opportunity to mingle with The Phantom Gourmet team as they sample some great local dishes.

The Phantom Gourmet has been a New England favorite since it’s launch in 1993. Since then, Phantom Gourmet, Inc., led by Dave, Mike and Dan Andelman, have produced some of the greatest food events in Boston and beyond, including Phantom Gourmet Food Festival and Phantom Gourmet BBQ Beach Party. “We are excited to host this wonderful holiday event and are looking forward to experiencing some of the region’s local cuisine, “ said Dan Andelman, host and executive producer of The Phantom Gourmet. “We are happy to be a part of this celebration for the great cause of preserving the history around us.”

The Taste of the Festival is Friday, Nov. 18, from 6-10 p.m. Tickets are $50.00 and can be purchased by calling 978-685-8878 or go to www.methuenfestivaloftrees.com by November 1 (Tickets are limited to 400 guests). The Festival of Trees officially opens Nov. 19 and runs through Dec 3. It’s open weekdays from 5-9 p.m., and on weekends from 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving. General Admission is $8, with children under 12 free.

The Festival is located at Valley Office Park, 13 Branch St., Methuen. For more information, visit www.methuenfestivaloftrees.com. The Phantom Gourmet airs Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. on MYTV 38.

Festival of Trees donates $18,750.00 Matching Grant to Methuen Memorial Music Hall for Restoration Efforts

The Methuen Festival of Trees has awarded a matching grant of $18,750.00 to the Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Inc. to assist in their preservation efforts of this famed historical building. The Music Hall had been experiencing water damage on the interior wall of the east transept. A report provided by its structural engineer concluded that the copper flashing at the northeast valley of the roof and the stone construction and masonry at the tops of the transept gables were in desperate need of repair in order to keep the integrity of this monumental structure. Seeing the importance of this project, the Music Hall Board of Trustees submitted a proposal to the Festival of Trees to be considered for its Historic Preservation Grant to help fund this timely repair project.

“Our goal has always been to be a catalyst for historic preservation in our community,” said Ann Guastaferro, president of the Methuen Festival of Trees. “We are thrilled to be able to assist in preserving such an important historical building as the Methuen Memorial Music Hall.”

The restoration project is nearing completion at a cost of $37,500. The restoration elements of the Music Hall project included the following:

  • Repair of the flashing on both sides of the east transept gable at the junctions with the slate roof.
  • Repointing failed mortar joints of the brick on the back side of the gable wall and the sandstone trim elements.
  • Repairing the sandstone corners on the backside of the parapet wall.
  • Cleaning all sandstone bands, caps and window trim on the front gable wall.

“We are very appreciative of the contribution made by the Festival of Trees toward the total cost of our recent east transept repair and restoration project. Both of our organizations aspire to be good stewards of Methuen’s heritage,” said Ed Sampson, President of the Music Hall’s Board of Trustees. “The repair project was undertaken to correct a long-standing problem of water infiltration at the roofing slates, valley flashing, and deterioration of brick and sandstone trim masonry joints. We thank the Festival of Trees for helping us to ensure the integrity of the building, and to preserve this legacy of Edward F. Searles for future generations.”

The hall, initially named Serlo Organ Hall, was built by Searles to house the “Great Organ”, an 1863 instrument that had been built in Germany for the Boston Music Hall, and at the time was believed to be the largest pipe organ in the United States. He purchased it at auction in 1897 for $1,500 and began construction of the Music Hall, designed by the noted church architect Henry Vaughan, which was
completed in 1909.

Eagle Tribune: Festival of Trees donates $123K to restore Bell Tower and Methuen wall

The Festival of Trees donated $98,450 to restore the Searles Bell Tower on the Presentation of Mary Academy campus and $25,000 to restore the historic city-owned wall along nearby Park Street.

The bell tower was the Festival of Trees’ largest restoration project to date. The group raised the money through its annual Festival of Trees holiday event and they held a volunteer appreciation cookout and ribbon-cutting ceremony last Sunday at the Lawrence Street school.

The bell tower was cleaned inside and out, re-pointed, and a new roof was installed, according to a press release.

Sister Cecile Plasse, provincial superior at Presentation of Mary Academy, said the school is grateful for the donation.

“It’s just very pleasing to the eye. The angel that’s on the tower is called the Angel of the Resurrection, and for us, the tower has new life to it,” Plasse said. “It has come out of hiding, actually, because the trees in front of it hid it some and the Festival of Trees had some of the trees removed, which allows us to see its beauty in totality.”

The Festival of Trees began in 1994 as a fundraiser to restore the Tenney Gatehouse. The festival has since become a catalyst for historic preservation in the Merrimack Valley.
The group paid to restore one side of the wall along Park Street, from Lawrence Street to the corner of Pleasant and Charles streets. The wall is a familiar part of the cityscape and a symbol of Methuen’s heritage.

“Our next goal is to do the other side,” said Festival of Trees President Ann Guastaferro.
“They are both difficult and expensive to maintain,” Mayor William Manzi said of the walls. “It’s a great help to the city … finances being what they are, it would be difficult for us to replicate that.”

This year’s Festival of Trees will be Nov. 21 through Dec. 5 at 13 Branch St. Premier night will be Nov. 20.

Festival of Trees awards $10G matching grant to Salem Historical Society

The Festival of Trees has awarded a $10,000 matching grant to the Salem (NH) Historical Society to be used for the restoration of the Salem Depot Train Station.
This donation is part of the Historic Preservation and Restoration Grant Program designed to provide preservation funding to private, nonprofit organizations, private businesses housed in a historic property, cities and towns, and other public entities.

Attendees to the annual Festival of Trees holiday event are encouraged to cast their vote for their town to be considered for a grant to help fund a restoration/preservation project in their town. Salem received the most votes during the 2007 Festival and was awarded the matching grant.

“Our goal has always been to be a catalyst for historic preservation in our community, and we wanted to expand the efforts to other cities or towns to help raise awareness its importance,” said Maureen Pollard, president of the Methuen Festival of Trees. “We are thrilled to be able to assist in preserving such an important historical building as the Salem Depot.”