The regular practice of displaying a Christmas tree on the Capitol Grounds is relatively recent. Records at the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) show correspondence from 1919 indicate that a Christmas tree was purchased that year. However, it was not until 1964 that a definite procedure was initiated and a tree-lighting ceremony established.
In 1964, House Speaker John W. McCormack suggested to J. George Stewart, Architect of the Capitol, that a Christmas tree be placed on the Capitol Grounds. A live 24-foot Douglas fir was purchased for $700 from Buddies Nurseries of Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, and was planted on the West Front lawn. Each year through 1967 this tree was decorated and a tree-lighting ceremony was held.
Unfortunately, a combination of factors, including a severe wind storm in the spring of 1967 and root damage, caused the tree to die in 1968; it was removed in the same year. The 1968 Christmas tree was made from two white pines from Finksburg, Maryland, and was 30 feet tall; the 1969 tree was a 40-foot white pine from Westminster, Maryland. The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service has provided the trees since 1970.
AOC Capitol Grounds prepares to place the 2011 Christmas tree on the West Lawn.
Preparing the Christmas tree is a true team effort for the AOC. We work around the clock from tree selection to arrival, decoration and lighting.
Tree Facts and Details
Information about individual trees is listed below. Height is provided as measured in the forest by the National Forest Service.
|2016||Engelmann Spruce||80 feet||Payette National Forest||Idaho|
|2015||Lutz Spruce||74 feet||Chugach National Forest||Alaska|
|2014||White Spruce||88 feet||Chippewa National Forest||Minnesota|
|2013||Engelmann Spruce||88 feet||Colville National Forest||Washington|
|2012||Engelmann Spruce||73 feet||White River National Forest||Colorado|
|2011||Sierra White Fir||65 feet||Stanislaus National Forest||California|
|2010||Engelmann Spruce||67 feet||Bridger-Teton National Forest||Wyoming|
Band playing during the 2008 Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
|2009||Blue Spruce||85 feet||Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest||Arizona|
|2008||Subalpine Fir||78 feet||Bitterroot National Forest||Montana|
|2007||Balsam Fir||55 feet||Green Mountain National Forest||Vermont|
|2006||Pacific Silver Fir||65 feet||Olympic National Forest||Washington|
|2005||Engelmann Spruce||60 feet||Santa Fe National Forest||New Mexico|
|2004||Red Spruce||70 feet||George Washington and Jefferson National Forest||Virginia|
|2003||Engelmann Spruce||65 feet||Boise National Forest||Idaho|
|2002||Douglas Fir||70 feet||Umpqua National Forest||Oregon|
|2001||White Spruce||74 feet||Ottawa National Forest||Michigan|
|2000||Colorado Blue Spruce||65 feet||Pike National Forest||Colorado|
|1999||White Spruce||70 feet||Nicolet National Forest||Wisconsin|
|1998||Fraser Fir||50 feet||Pisgah National Forest||North Carolina|
|1997||Black Hills Spruce||63 feet||Black Hills National Forest||South Dakota|
|1996||Engelmann Spruce||75 feet||Manti-LaSal National Forest||Utah|
|1995||Douglas Fir||60 feet||Plumas National Forest||California|
|1994||Balsam Fir||58 feet||Green Mountain National Forest||Vermont|
|1993||White Fir||65 feet||San Bernardino National Forest||California|
|1992||White Spruce||62 feet||Chippewa National Forest||Minnesota|
|1991||Blue Spruce (live)||60 feet||Carson National Forest||New Mexico|
|1990||Engelmann Spruce||65 feet||Routt National Forest||Colorado|
|1989||Engelmann Spruce||60 feet||Kootenai National Forest||Montana|
|1988||Balsam Fir||50 feet||Manistee National Forest||Michigan|
|1987||Norway Spruce||60 feet||Wayne-Hoosier National Forest||Ohio|
|1986||Shasta Red Fir||54 feet||Klamath National Forest||California|
|1985||White Spruce||56 feet||Ottawa National Forest||Michigan|
|1984||White Spruce||58 feet||Superior National Forest||Minnesota|
|1983||White Spruce||52 feet||Chequamegon National Forest||Wisconsin|
|1982||Balsam Fir||50 feet||Riley Bostwich Wildlife Management Area||Vermont|
|1981||White Spruce||50 feet||Hiawatha National Forest||Michigan|
|1980||White Spruce||48 feet||Green Mountain National Forest||Vermont|
AOC workers anchor the 1971 Capitol Christmas Tree, a Black Spruce from New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest.
|1979||White Spruce||52 feet||Nicolet National Forest||Wisconsin|
|1978||Norway Spruce||60 feet||Savage River State Forest||Maryland|
|1977||White Spruce||52 feet||Nemadji State Forest||Minnesota|
|1976||Red Spruce||41 feet||Monongahela National Forest||West Virginia|
|1975||Balsam Fir||41 feet||Ottawa National Forest||Michigan|
|1974||Fraser Fir||41 feet||Pisgah National Forest||North Carolina|
|1973||White Spruce||51 feet||Allegheny National Forest||Pennsylvania|
|1972||Balsam Fir||50 feet||Cherokee National Forest||Tennessee|
|1971||Black Spruce||45 feet||White Mountain National Forest||New Hampshire|
|1970||Norway Spruce||40 feet||Monongahela National Forest||West Virginia|
The first Capitol Christmas Tree being planted on the West Front in 1964.
|1969||White Pine||40 feet||Westminister||Maryland|
|1968||White Pine||30 feet||Finxburg||Maryland|
|1967||Douglas Fir||24 feet||Buddies Nurseries||Pennsylvania|
|1966||Douglas Fir||24 feet||Buddies Nurseries||Pennsylvania|
|1965||Douglas Fir||24 feet||Buddies Nurseries||Pennsylvania|
|1964||Douglas Fir||24 feet||Buddies Nurseries||Pennsylvania|