LEDs light historic Civil War siteNovember 3, 2011
Here at HolidayLEDs.com, we’re happy to assist customers with special circumstances, and to help figure out which holiday lighting product(s) will work best. But it’s not every day that we get to work with a site that played a pivotal role in American history.
We were contacted several months ago by volunteers who wanted to illuminate a stately ash tree outside the courthouse in Chesterfield, SC, which on Nov. 12, 1860, was the site of the first vote taken to secede from the United States. Last year, after an extensive renovation that turned the site into a county museum, someone in the group asked if anyone had ever thought about lighting the tree outside.
“We talked about it, and all of a sudden it was up to me and buddy to do it,” said Glenn Gulledge, who volunteered on the renovation project. It never occurred to them to look into incandescent holiday lights, which can use ten times more electricity than LEDs – “We knew we wanted to use LED holiday lights because the power requirements were so much lower. It would be hard to afford the power bill on that many lights if they weren’t.”
Five years after the historic vote to secede from the Union, General William Sherman’s Union troops occupied the city of Chesterfield and burned the original courthouse to the ground. A replacement structure was built around 1884, which was used as a courthouse for almost the next century. Last year, private donors and civic groups restored that building to house a historic museum and art gallery.
“It’s got some of the oldest records we have,” said Gulledge. “When they burned the original courthouse, everything was lost. But everything else that we can possibly archive is in there: old photographs, historic remnants from the town, stories, artifacts—just the normal stuff based on the history of the area.”
Once the renovation was done, people thought it would be nice if the courtyard displayed as much civic pride as the building itself. So Gulledge sent HolidayLEDS.com measurements and photographs of the 50-foot-tree to get our recommendations on what lights to use. Soon afterwards, Gulledge found himself, a few other volunteers, and a city employee with a bucket truck, stringing 190 sets of white holiday lights on the towering ash tree. It took them three days.
In the end, even Gulledge was stunned by how dramatically the lights altered the townscape. It’s been a month since the night that they officially lit the tree, and people in the town of 1400 can’t stop talking about it.
“People love it,” Gulledge said. “They always say ‘when I drive by, my kids make me slow down’ or ‘my grandkids make me stop by every time,’” he said. “I always thought it would look really good. It turned out great.”