By Maria Saporta
A 102-year-old magnolia tree was cut down Thursday on the front lawn of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s Rhodes Hall.
The city of Atlanta determined the tree was damaged and decayed. It was deemed to be a safety hazard and was in danger of falling Consulting arborists and a landscape architect agreed.
Although the tree had a full canopy of leaves, its trunk was hollow. And the trunk was cracked in several places.
“The Trust’s consulting arborists recommended putting a safety cable on the tree which the Trust installed many years ago. This cable snapped recently, and we noticed that one of the main trunks of the tree had split into two separate pieces adjacent to the sidewalk,” Georgia Trust President Mark C. McDonald said in a statement. “We had no choice but to remove the venerable tree which had stood guard on Peachtree Street for 102 years.”
It is believed that the historic magnolia tree was planted in 1917 when furniture magnate Amos Giles Rhodes and his wife, Amanda, were living at Rhodes Hall. The couple resided in the “Castle on Peachtree” from its construction in 1902 to 1904 until their deaths in 1928 and 1929, respectively.
The Georgia Trust was able to secure a long-term lease of Rhodes Hall in1983, and it moved its headquarters to the upper floors of the mansion
In 2017, the Georgia Trust completed a sustainable rehabilitation of Rhodes Hall, which included the installation of a sustainable landscape that alleviated issues with drainage and erosion. At that time, many sustainable shrubs and trees were added to the site, leaving the imprint of the original landscaping intact.
To memorialize the tree, the Trust will be working with a wood carver to create wood art pieces from the tree’s trunk and taking cuttings from the tree so saplings can be rooted. After a consultation with experts, the Georgia Trust contracted with Peachtree Tree Service to remove the tree.
“We were impressed by Peachtree Tree Service’s concern for the delicacy of our historic site and for our need to preserve part of the tree’s history by taking cuttings and creating something beautiful from the trunk,” McDonald said.