The "Olmsted Elm," the signature tree at the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site is coming down next week, likely on March 30. This is an unfortunate move prompted by the tree's deteriorating health.
In a press release from the Olmsted Historical Site and National Parks Service (NPS), Superintendent Myra Harrison explained, “we realize that people develop strong emotional attachments to long-lived trees, especially those that have witnessed important historical events or the lives of historical figures. We therefore wish to inform the public about the impending removal of our historic tree so that they have a final opportunity to visit and experience its presence on our Olmsted-designed landscape.”
Estimated to be over 180 years old, the plant is now victim of a handful of health problems including crown dieback, shedding bark and branches, and spreading fungal infections. It also has a seam along its trunk which is slowly and precariously widening. After consulting a number of specialists, the consensus is that the tree needs to be removed. It poses danger to visitors and to the neighboring historic home of Frederick Law Olmsted.
Olmsted was a landscape designer and journalist, credited with projects like the Emerald Necklace--of which Brookline's is a part. The tree was on Olmsted's property when he purchased the home at 99 Warren St. During a significant redesign, Olmsted and his stepson John C Olmsted kept this tree. Since then, ownership of the property--and the tree--have been transferred to the NPS in 1980.
The Elm has even got a Facebook page, which went live last week. It's a place for fans of the tree to remember it after it is gone.
Through its Facebook page, the NPS made a positive announcement: they are growing genetic clones of the tree, one of which will replace the Olmsted Elm. When a clone reaches an appropriate size, which may still take a year or two, the tree will be replanted in its original place.