A Century-Old Tradition

The 2017 ornament celebrates 100 years of trees at the Texas Capitol.

By Adam Faderewski


On Christmas Eve 1917, a 25-foot-tall cedar tree was decorated in the Texas Capitol. The tree, placed in the Senate chamber, was given in honor of Texas soldiers who were fighting in World War I. Now, the Capitol trees—no longer cedar—are typically delivered to the governor, lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the House on the week after Thanksgiving. From there, the trees are trimmed and placed in the Governor’s Public Reception Room, the Senate chamber, and the House chamber to be enjoyed by visitors. The Capitol trees are delivered by a traditional four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage.

The 2017 Texas Capitol ornament honors the 100th anniversary of Capitol trees and features a 3-D design of a coachman, white steed, traditional carriage, and of course, tree.

“Last year was the first year that we took a step back from focusing on the architecture of the Capitol and elected to put an emphasis on Texas Capitol traditions,” said Erin Christensen, director of retail for the State Preservation Board Capitol Gift Shop.

The ornament is the first in the series designed to be enjoyed from every angle. Christensen said the ornament is “really unique” in regards to its 3-D design. “If you want to hang it on your tree, you can obviously do that, or you could display it on a table.”

Last year’s ornament was a tree decorated with Capitol ornaments from previous years. Christensen said the 2016 ornament has been the program’s best-seller to date with more than 58,000 sold.

The ornament program was modeled after a similar project at the White House and founded 21 years ago by the late Nelda Laney, wife of then-Speaker of the House Pete Laney. Through 2016 it has raised well over $8 million to fund preservation and education programs at the Capitol, Governor’s Mansion, Bullock Texas State History Museum, and the Capitol Visitors Center.

For more information or to purchase an ornament, go to



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