Ludwig Witt, from Germany, crafted a German pyramid Christmas tree in 1921 for his granddaughter Alice Kerr. Today, 100 years after the fact, the Christmas tree is still in the family as Pastor John Beehler, of the First Presbyterian Church in Huntington, is now the owner.
Beehler, the great-grandson of Witt, says the tree is made from orange crates, packing boxes, a broom handle and cardboard.
Though it isn’t the “present-day idea of a traditional Christmas tree,” Beehler says it is the only tree they had growing up except for one year when they had a live tree.
The German pyramid Christmas tree style was popular in Germany in the 1600s, Beehler says.
“The tree has undergone some transformations over the years,” Beehler says. “The bubble lights have been replaced and—of course—the candles as they burned down. The heat from the four large candles on the corners of each tier would rise to the fans, causing the center discs to rotate.
“Unfortunately, the heat from those candles also melted a few of the ornaments. Because of the potential for fire, the candles now are just for decoration and unlit.”
Despite some changes, most of the animals “are the originals and remain intact, if somewhat worn.”
Beehler says that he remembers sitting and watching it spin for hours when he was a child and that “even as old memories remain, new ones are added.”
The family has several photos from throughout the years of family members interacting with the tree. The first is of Beehler when he was 4-years-old in 1962 sitting and looking at the tree. A similar photo was taken in 1996 of Beehler’s son Cody, doing the same thing.
And now, in 2021, Beehler has taken a photo of his own 2-year-old grandson, Hunter Beehler, pointing at the tree.