With its fate sealed at a Wellesley School Committee meeting earlier in the week, the estimated 200-plus-year-old white oak at Hunnewell Elementary School property was chopped down by the Department of Public Works on Saturday. The crew started the job at 7am and expected to be working past noon.
When I arrived a DPW worker in a cherry picker was carving up limbs on the 30-foot-high-ish tree. “We’ve already taken care of the hard part,” said one employee, keeping me behind the cones and tape.
A report commissioned by the Wellesley Natural Resources Commission recently deemed the oak a “high risk tree,” unsafe for its location. The tree’s future had already been in question as a result of plans to re-do the Hunnewell Elementary School itself, but now the tree’s part in that equation is no longer a factor.
While the tree has been used in the past as part of science lessons, perhaps it will now find its way into history classes. Hunnewell Principal Ellen Quirk wrote to the school community the day before the tree went down that “We are hoping that we will be able to save some large cross sections and limbs of the tree, so that they can be milled and crafted into several items that will memorialize and celebrate the life of this majestic tree. Many people have wonderful suggestions for the use of the wood and we will be sure to capture all of the ideas before making final decisions. [Art teacher] Peter Knapp attended the meeting this morning, and is considering some art projects for the students, too.”
Support Swellesley: I spent about an hour on Saturday morning running out to snap photos, then posting this here and on social media (then swung by Sunday for the “after” photos). If this sort of local journalism is valuable to you, please consider contributing to The Swellesley Report.
Here are the “after” photos:
The before picture: