Friday, July 29, 2011

Remembering Great Trees

"Under the spreading chestnut tree. . . ."

This pair of chestnut trees, which could have inspired Longfellow, flanked the entrance to 400 State Street for almost two centuries. This picture shows the trees as they appeared early in the period when the building was the Hudson Orphan Asylum--1881 to 1958. The trees survived until 1995, when Donald Carlisle, then the superintendent of schools for the Hudson City School District, had them cut down, without notifying Frank Rees, who was then the director of the Hudson Area Library, of his intention. 


  1. Was anything replanted to replace the chestnut trees?

    There is a hardy variety of elm tree (called Princeton I believe) that has something like a 90+% survival rate against Dutch Elm Disease. Elms are beautiful native trees, especially graceful in front of buildings with their fountain shape.

    If nothing was replanted -- and my memory is that it's very naked at the front of the Hudson Library -- then the Library is at fault. They've had 16 years to do something.

    -- Jock Spivy

  2. Jock--You need to spend more time in Hudson! Yes, trees were planted--by the library, long before the library owned the building--to replace the noble chestnuts, but my point is that the chestnuts were extraordinary trees, loved by the whole community and cut precipitously, without concern for how their loss would affect the community.

    If you look at my July 14 post "The Fate of the Asylum," you will see a recent picture of 400 State Street that shows the trees now there. In the spring of 1996, two tulip trees were planted to replace the chestnuts but farther apart than the chestnuts. The one on the left (west) was the victim of vandals, who snapped it off when it was still a stapling.

    In 1999, the library board decided to move the surviving tulip tree and plant a pair of locusts, chosen because they have nice lacy foliage that doesn't obscure the architecture. (The picture I used in this post was the only one I could find of library when the chestnuts were there that wasn't taken during leaf-off.) A board member had a friend who was a landscaper (the library is always impoverished) who agreed to move the tulip tree and plant the locusts pro bono, but he decided, unilaterally, that there was no place to move the tulip tree, so he only planted one locust. So now there is, as you face the building, a tulip tree at right and a locust at the left.

  3. Yes I agree that it is very bad to take fine trees down for no good reason. Obviously the replacements do not come close to the quality of the ones taken down.

    -- Jock Spivy