WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

A 150-year-old chestnut tree, a witness to history, is felled outside Susan B. Anthony house

Jun 20, 2018
Originally published on June 14, 2018 12:40 pm

A 150 year old horse chestnut tree that witnessed some remarkable times in Rochester history and American history was cut down outside the Susan B. Anthony House on Madison Street this morning.

"I'm sure if it could talk it would have some interesting stories about an American icon," said  Anthony Orphe, director of environmental services for the city of Rochester.

Despite efforts to preserve it in recent years, the fifty-foot tree had died, and Orphe said it was a safety hazard in the neighborhood.

Deborah Hughes, executive director of the Susan B. Anthony House and Museum, watched with her staff as a forestry crew surgically removed tree's limbs

"I love that this tree has seen every person that's come to see Susan B. Anthony and every person who's come to see the national historic landmark,” she said. “It witnessed her being arrested in 1872 for voting; it was here when she was lying in state in the front parlor after she died in 1906."

Anthony herself is said to have saved the tree in the late 19th century. The legend, according to Hughes, is that the founder of the suffrage movement fought to keep the tree alive when the streets were being paved and the city wanted to remove it so it could cut the roots to make way for the curbs.

Hughes hopes enough of the wood can be salvaged to make a table for the museum's board of trustees. For the next several years, it will be dried with a 19th century method at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford where it will be on display.

About twenty years ago, a sapling that was grown from one of the original chestnut tree’s limbs was planted about fifteen feet away. 

Click on the LISTEN link above to hear an interview with Deborah Hughes.

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