Billings is lucky to have Julie Tschetter Seedhouse. And we’re particularly lucky she lives in downtown, and loves it.
Years ago, Seedhouse saw the spectacular results of a downtown community development project in Denver, where permanent lights were strung above 16th Street.
Seedhouse, a real estate broker who serves on the Billings Chamber of Commerce board, had heard of previous discussions about putting decorative lights on downtown Billings blocks. Then she found out about Space to Place grants offered by Big Sky Economic Development. She applied for one, got it, and an idea became a plan.
“I’m invested in downtown and I’m dialed in to how important it is to Billings as a whole,” Seedhouse said Thursday. “But I also love this for selfish reasons because it makes my front yard beautiful.”
Seedhouse immediately recruited her neighbor and friend Lauri Larson Patterson, who, like Seedhouse, lives in the Stapleton Building on North Broadway. Together, they assembled a team to help with the project to light up their street.
Don Olsen with O2 Architects was a key supporter of the project.
“He researched the anchors we should use so as not to harm these beautiful historic buildings. And he helped navigate the project through the city,” Seedhouse said.
Others helped as well. The Downtown Billings Association was renting a lift to use putting up Christmas decorations, so the two groups worked together and the lift was made available for Seedhouse’s project.
Chris Archer with AEI Electric did the installation.
And, Seedhouse said, "not a single business owner or building owner we talked to had any other reaction than pure enthusiasm."
The results are spectacular.
“I literally cried when we turned the lights on,” she said. “It looked so beautiful.”
The whole thing, she says, will cost maybe $2,500, with a little fund for ongoing maintenance. The BSEDA grant was for $1,700 so the group is still fund-raising for the balance.
It’s a tiny bit of money to create something so beautiful. And lifting the spirits of Billings by shedding a little light is not a bad thing right now.
Our congratulations go to Julie, Lauri and their team, and to BSEDA. Well done!
The Billings Gazette Editorial Board includes President and Publisher Dave Worstell, Regional Editor David McCumber, and Chief Photographer Larry Mayer.