Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Tree Grows with Atlanta

Pictured above: The Southern Red Oak in front of Rhodes Hall.

When Rhodes Hall was completed in 1904, the Southern Red Oak which stands before the home's tower was a part of the original landscaping. We estimate the tree was approximately twenty years old by then, and in its lifetime it would survive the great Atlanta fire of 1917. It would see the Varsity open in 1928, and continue to grow as Margaret Mitchell worked at her typewriter in her small apartment down the street, eventually publishing her novel Gone with the Wind in 1936.

In 1958, the tree had grown more than 9 feet, and the Temple of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, also on Peachtree, was bombed- the Oak stood as witness. The tree was there for Dr. Martin Luther King's leadership, and stood proud when he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. It looked on as Ted Turner launched of TBS in 1975. In 1996, the Olympics came to Atlanta, and the old Oak provided shade for the Turkish delegation who were headquartered in Rhodes Hall.

Pictured above: The sonogram of the Red Oak, provided by
Arbormedics. Blue indicates hollow space.

The Oak is round about 125 years old, and it is with great regret that we at the Trust announce that it is dying. A recent sonogram, conducted by Arbormedics shown above, indicates that the tree has been hollowed by a fungal infection, and has suffered extensive heart rot. The Southern Red Oak, which has served as a measure of Atlanta's history and growth, must be removed to insure that it will not collapse and damage Rhodes Hall or other properties nearby.

While it may seem ridiculous to some to write a such a eulogy, preservationists and environmentalists alike acknowledge the importance, ecological and historic, of old trees.

As we at the Trust prepare for the tree's removal, we bid goodbye to a dear friend and important part of our history. Stay tuned as we plant new roots- a new tree to take the old Oak's place and serve as witness to future historic events at Rhodes Hall and in Atlanta.

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