Farewell to Our Majestic Copper Beech
Our majestic copper beech tree has been a symbol of the library for decades. Since the Oliver Wolcott Library moved to its current location in July of 1967, the beautiful Copper Beech Tree by the main entrance has welcomed visitors. With its wide branches, stunning copper leaves, and enormous trunk, it has delighted and enchanted library patrons for decades.
Unfortunately the tree has been declining for more than ten years, and by last summer, was declared completely dead when not one new leaf emerged. It is slated to come down in late May or early June.
Dead trees have many uses and can be stunning in their own right. However, being a public building with about 250 visitors a day, we cannot accept the threat that a dead tree could pose to our patrons. As a result, after much careful deliberation and thought, the library’s Beech Tree Committee concluded that the tree should be removed.
The library did everything it could to keep it strong including using a skilled arborist to assist with the best practice for the care and nurturing of big trees. But, ultimately, like all things in life, the tree finally reached the end of its life.
The library formed a Beech Tree Committee appointed by the Board President to decide what should be done. The Committee includes local artisan and owner of Northwest Corner Woodworks John LaGattuta; Litchfield Garden Club past President and Litchfield Land Trust board member Drew Harlow; Litchfield Garden Club member Jane Hinkel; Litchfield Garden Club member Marla Patterson; Vice President of Chapman Lumber and library trustee Stuart Chapman; Founder of Zero Odor and library trustee Jim Huffstetler; White Memorial trustee and library trustee Susan Spencer; and Library Director Ann Marie White.
After careful review and deliberation, the Committee decided that if the tree was sound upon removal, they would work with three local artisans, Richard Heys, John LaGattuta and Jim Nash of Nash-Winn Milling, who will craft specially-made items from the beech tree that the library can own and proudly display as a way to honor and memorialize the tree.
Additional plans include saving a couple of slabs of the tree, if sound, to use as an educational tool that will highlight significant historical events matched to the tree rings of that same year.
The Committee also plans to replant either in the fall of 2014 or spring of 2015, depending on the tree selected and availability.
While the Oliver Wolcott Library is saddened to see its friend, the magnificent Copper Beech go, we look forward to memorializing it with local artisans, using the opportunity to educate young patrons on how to identify and appreciate trees, and planting a new tree.