Gustavus Says Goodbye To Beloved Campus Tree

Posted on July 18th, 2020 by

Photo by CJ Siewert '11

Gustavus physical plant director Travis Jordan sent the following email to students, faculty, and staff on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 to inform them that the iconic tree outside of the C. Charles Jackson Campus Center would be removed.

TO: The Gustavus Community
FROM: Travis Jordan, Director of the Physical Plant
SUBJECT: Campus Center Tree Removal
DATE: July 15, 2020

On Friday morning, we will begin the process of removing the historic hackberry tree outside of the Jackson Campus Center.

Over the past two decades, the Physical Plant has had the tree examined regularly by arborists and tree removal experts. Following the tornado in 1998, anchor bolts and steel cables were installed to help support the tree, which was beginning to split down the middle due to its size and weight. These bolts and cable were adjusted in 2015. After the tree sustained wind damage during a thunderstorm on Saturday, July 11, experts advised the College that the tree must come down due to safety concerns and that artificial supports could no longer be relied on to keep the tree standing.

The Physical Plant and the tree removal specialists intend to save cross sections of the trunk that may be turned into on-campus tables and other furniture. Depending on the quality of the wood and outcome of the removal process, there may be other opportunities for members of the community to purchase a keepsake from the tree. We plan to have the tree analyzed by dendrochronologists to provide more information about its age as well as Saint Peter weather patterns and climate events throughout its life. The College is also exploring options to replace the tree and have a celebratory planting ceremony this fall if circumstances allow.

The iconic tree, rumored to have been standing since the College moved to Saint Peter in 1876, is known to generations of Gustavus students, faculty, and staff. For many years, this has been a meeting place where members of our community greeted each other at Chapel break and between classes as they entered and left the Jackson Campus Center. Under its shady branches, first-year students arrived on campus and marched to Hollingsworth Field four years later on commencement day. Beneath its boughs, students have protested for justice and alumni walked out from Christ Chapel as newlyweds. If trees could talk and listen, this one could tell many stories. This week, sadly, we say goodbye.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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