Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin Oak Thought to Be 300 Years Old Is Taken Down

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin Oak Thought to Be 300 Years Old Is Taken Down

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

It was growing when horse-drawn wagons hauled oranges and vegetables under its limbs before the Civil War, en route to steamship docks at what is now County Dock Road.

It provided a perch for students attending the Mandarin School nearby just before the 20th century dawned.

But when one of its huge limbs collapsed across the 12000 block of Mandarin Road late June 12, the days were numbered for a tree believed to be close to 300 years old. And early Wednesday, crews hired by the city began cutting a piece of Mandarin history down to size, 3- to 6-foot-long hunks falling to the ground with a thump.

"I feel sad. It is kind of a tragic and sad day. It is a necessary day," said Don Roberston, the city's urban forester. "But I think we go through kind of a grieving process for those of us who love and care for trees. It is not something we are looking to do, to take these old trees down."

The old oak will live on in multiple ways, including items shaped by a woodcarver friend of community club board member Wanda Bosworth, who watched it come down.

"It is the saddest day in Mandarin to think we are losing a historic tree where children once played and the community club had many activities," Bosworth said. "[The woodcarver] said he would be able to make a pin in the shape of a tree or hummingbird to wear on my lapel as a memory of Mandarin's history, or maybe a pen or letter opener."

The tree measured about 250 inches around, its limbs arcing over Mandarin Road and the lawn of the community club. It was already big when the building was originally constructed as a church and school in 1872 with money raised by Uncle Tom's Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe, who lived across the road. The tree is seen holding dozens of students from what was then called the Mandarin School in an 1899 photograph. …

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