Tuesday, April 6, 2021

How Old Was It?

Last month, Gossips reported on the demise of the ancient locust tree in Washington Park. 

Back in 2011, this locust had been one of the heritage trees featured in Gossips' series "Showcasing Hudson's Great Trees." At the time, I called it "gnarled and venerable."

The day the tree came down, Brian McDonald, the Director of Facilities for Columbia County, explained that a large branch of the tree had been found to be completely dead, and there was too much decay in the tree to save it. It was determined to be a danger to pedestrians in the park as well as people visiting the post office across the street, and so it had to be taken down. 

The stump remains, and yesterday Peter Jung decided to count the rings to find out how old the tree actually was. 

Photo: Peter Jung
Jung reported that he had counted 180 rings, "which would date the tree to around 1840." That date would mean the tree was planted around the time that the first Columbia County Courthouse on that site was constructed. 

The first courthouse, shown in the photograph above, was built around 1837, which suggests that the locust tree may have been one of the original trees planted when Washington Park, also known as Courthouse Square, was created.

During the time the tree had stood in the park there have been three courthouses on the site. The first was destroyed by fire around the turn of the last century and was replaced by a courthouse designed by local architect Henry S. Moul. 

The Moul courthouse, shown above. was completed in 1900, but seven years later, in 1907, it too was destroyed by fire. Our current courthouse, designed by the celebrated architects Whitney Warren and Charles Wetmore, was completed in 1908. The building was constructed entirely of stone and metal, as were all its original furnishings. After two courthouses had gone up in flames within a decade, it was resolved that the new courthouse would be made of nothing flammable.



  1. Pretty amazing to think that the tree survived three courthouses. Thanks for the interesting history

  2. Thank you, Peter for counting the rings!

  3. Too bad the tree finally did not survive Hudson.

    Trees of this size and age are rare. In England they care for the trees and nurture them to last for 100s of years. this tree could have been pruned, and supplied with tree nutrients.

    sadly, it is gone.

    1. in a Paris churchyard is literally an ancient apple tree stump with one large branch heavily supported - blooming.