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yankee magazine  tree stand

A stand displayed at the Buckmaster Inn, Shrewsbury, VT
Photo reproduced from Yankee Magazine:December 2003

As a child in the late 1950's and early 1960's our Christmas started when my grand father pulled the Christmas Tree stand from the attic, and set it up in the living room. 

Once the tree was placed in the stand and decorated, grandma would do her magic. First she placed small model houses on the stand around the base of the tree. Then she placed a mirror towards the front to represent a frozen pond. She finished the village with a cotton blanket to represent snow and then sprinkled loose snow on the pond. Small skaters graced the pond and little figures walked between the houses. Throughout the season we played around the stand with our own little figures or toy animals.

When grandma died in 1968, the stand disappeared. It may have been thrown out or it may have been given to friends. No one realized it's historic value.

 I have become the unofficial web source for the history of the Bridgeport Fire Department Christmas Tree Stands.

All of the information that I present has been relayed by other stand owners and from my own personal experience growing up in Bridgeport. I am always very happy to talk with anyone who has a stand or has any stories or any history of the stands. Please feel free to call or email.

History:
The Bridgeport Christmas Tree Stands were build from approximately 1905 to the mid 1960's by firemen working for the Bridgeport Fire Department.

The job required many long hours and making the stands provided an alternative to the long tedious hours between emergencies. The fireman never charged for the stands and all were given away to needy families. It is not known how many stands were made or how many firehouses were involved but from the contacts I have made over the years I would estimate that there were between 200 to 300 produced and at least 4-5 stations involved.

There are some variations in the stands: some have gates, some have stairs, some have lights on the posts. The basic shape, size and design remains consistent. Most were painted white but I have heard reports that one fire house painted the stands green. The original wiring on the lights was quite primitive by today's standards and I remember many lights exploding and smoke when the stand was plugged in for the first time each Christmas season.

origianl stand

origninal stand align=bottom /><span class=

An original stand found at a York, ME antique store

 

I have heard stories that the Bridgeport Fire Department also made a blanket type of chest and a wooden rocking horse. I have not seen any of these pieces but I do vaguely remember one of the rocking horses owned by my godmother.


Reproductions:
I have faithfully reproduced the stand. I have employed all the techniques I normally use in making a fine piece of furniture. About 10 years ago a company attempted to manufacture a similar stand off shore but it never made it to market. I have resisted any suggestion to mass produce replicas and have preferred to hand make each stand, All of the rails, post, and pickets are done with traditional mortise and tenon joinery. With minimal care, a stand should last in excess of 200 years.
The stand comes in two pieces, the wooden decorative part and the steel tree holder. I use three different models of steel holders: a cast iron holder capable of up to a 10' tree, a steel holder for artificial trees, and a steel holder capable of up to a 16' tree.

Call or email for details

  reproduction tree stand