Shining Traditions

Raise a toast to new additions at the celebrated aluminum-tree museum in Brevard.

For many years, Bold Life has reported on Stephen Jackson’s ATOM exhibit (the acronym somewhat incongruously stands for the Aesthetically Challenged Seasonal Ornament and Research Center). It’s a display of what we might now call “post-tacky” aluminum Christmas trees — those once-maligned mid-century totems of materialism that now inspire nostalgia, affection, fervent eBay bidding, and, in the case of Jackson and his ATOM torchbearers, meticulous collecting.

ATOM switched venues a few times before finding a happy home at the Transylvania Heritage Museum in downtown Brevard. It now draws repeat visitors, as well as clicks on national websites that showcase must-see hallmarks of Americana.

Certain of ATOM’s theme-decorated displays are no-brainers when it comes to making folks’ favorite lists (e.g., the ones dedicated to Elvis and to Marilyn Monroe). But thanks to mother-daughter team Mary Allen and Mary Chism, a few new trees have been inducted into the forest this year. The one that prompts the biggest smile: the pair’s Mayberry tree, garlanded with the full Andy Griffith cast, including a signed postcard from town drunk Otis.

We’ll drink to that.

The aluminum trees are on display through December 19 at the Transylvania Heritage Museum (189 West Main St., Brevard), Wednesday through Saturday, 10am-5pm. 828-884-2347.


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