|The Alma Higgins Christmas Tree (left center) dedicated Dec. 14, 2013. 200 block of West Broadway.|
By Richard I. Gibson
Dec. 2013: Christmas tree to honor Alma Higgins • Another story
Butte was ugly in the 1920s (called “the ugliest town in the world” by Time magazine in 1928), but Higgins worked through photography exhibits and letter-writing campaigns, as well as in eventually 18 Butte garden clubs to beautify Butte. Her “Garden Week” in Butte in 1922 became a national event (still celebrated) thanks to her lobbying and the designation by President Harding in 1923. I have to wonder if Harding met Higgins on his visit to Butte that year: There is always more to research.
Alma Higgins became known as the nation’s Christmas Tree Lady after promoting living Christmas trees, one of which became the first National Christmas Tree. She died in 1962, with a remarkable legacy of conservation and leadership—largely forgotten today. Norm DeNeal and his colleagues carry on her tradition, developing and caring for the Lexington Gardens, the flowers at the Berkeley Pit visitor center, and all over Butte.
|Plaque in Butte's Higgins Memorial Garden|
Click to enlarge.
Reference: Janet Finn and Ellen Crain (Eds.), Motherlode: Legacies of Women’s Lives and Labors in Butte, Montana. Livingston, MT: Clark City Press: 2005, pp. 204-228. See also this post about Alma's father, Nick Bielenberg.
Images: I believe the historic photo of Higgins is in the public domain, via http://www.nwhistorycourse.org ; if it is not, let me know and I will remove it. The photo of the plaque in the Alma Higgins Memorial Garden in Butte is by Dick Gibson.