Christmas village turns 50
MADISON — The historic Christmas Village in front of the Red Caboose on Main Street is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
The now late Lester Alvis, Jr. and his wife Minnie created the village, and first displayed it on Berkley Drive in Jackson in 1973. Since then it has moved twice, to the Mississippi Agricultural Museum in 1999, and then to its current location in front of the Red Caboose on Main Street in 2009.
Bill Alvis, son of Lester Alvis, Jr., takes part in setting up the village each year and said he never envisioned the village still being displayed 50 years after being made.
“I’m pleased that it’s still here to honor the memory of my dad,” Alvis said. “His goal was to create something for the community and as a Christmas gift in response to the Lord’s gift of Jesus to us.”
Alvis said he grew up with the village for Christmas each year and recalled his father having many hobbies, one of them being woodworking, He said his father would spend time during the summer working on buildings for the village to have them ready to go by the first of December. He noted that his father would make the buildings and his mother Minnie would decorate the interiors.
Alvis said his first cousin Jim and his brother Les both play a key part in making the village great each year with setting everything up and making sure all the buildings are in good condition.
“We set it up this year on Nov. 16, much earlier than previous years since the city is wanting to put out everything early,” Alvis said. “We usually set everything up the first Monday after Thanksgiving.”
The Christmas Village is the second village in the Alvis family, with the first being built by Mr. and Mrs. Lester Alvis, Sr., in 1950. The village was displayed on Pecan Boulevard until 1957 and then donated to the Baptist Children’s Village in 1958, where it remained on display until 1964. It was destroyed by vandals in 1965 during the relocation of the Baptist Children’s Village.
The Christmas Village on Main Street consists of a church, white and yellow house, a general store, barn, school, blacksmith shop, doctor’s office, drug store / barber shop, town hall, grist mill, covered bridge, fire station, bank, newspaper office, post office, inn, depot, opera house, infirmary, and a pond with flowing water. Each building was designed by architect W.L. Addkison.
The city of Madison is honoring the village’s 50th anniversary with a ceremony during their “Holiday on Main” event on Dec. 1 at 5:15 p.m.
The village is on display in front of the Red Caboose on Main Street at the Madison Square Center for the Arts.