A tale of two oaks

A tale of two oaks
A tree trimmer from Hamilton Tree Service removes the branches that fell onto the roof of Leatherbury Hall at St. Mark’s Episcopal

Hurricane season brings more than the threat of wind and water damage to area homes and businesses. Jacksonville’s “rainy season” has been known to bring once majestic oaks to their knees and the past several weeks has proven that to be the case locally.StMarksOak_04

The grand old live oak that sits inside the courtyard at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Ortega has, after a century and a half or more, finally succumbed to age, disease or the elements, or a combination thereof.

In late May a powerful storm – or perhaps a lightning strike – resulted in a catastrophic break to an enormous limb, which came to rest on the roof of Leatherbury Hall.
Some estimate the age of the oak tree – actually three trees grown together, according to the arborist – to be anywhere from 150 to 300 years old. Relatively speaking, then, its time as a provider of shade and beauty for parishioners at St. Mark’s has been less than a century.

Tree trimmers from Hamilton Tree Service arrived on June 11 to begin the task of removing the branch, then later the tree. According to St. Mark’s rector, Rev. Jonathan Coffey, “If any good can come out of this, it is that we are endeavoring to work with a local expert in architectural woodworking to save and treat the wood to build a cross for the Chapel Transept wall.”
Terry Eason, the artist who rendered all the woodwork in the Sanctuary and Chapel, will create a cross similar in design to the crosses he made for the worship spaces. “This cross will be a permanent reminder of the great oak that stood guard over St. Mark’s for so many years,” said Coffey in a letter to his congregation.

No harm from fall
BrokenTree_02Two weeks later a live oak in Boone Park lost its battle with any of the factors that can cause these super canopies to weaken, and fell with a mighty crack, landing in the southbound land of St. John’s Avenue at Van Wert. Mid-afternoon on June 2, children playing in Boone Park heard a sound like a gunshot, only to turn around and see the top of the tree in the road. Had it fallen the other way, it may have injured kids playing in the park. Fortunately, there were no cars in the path of the falling tree on St. John’s Avenue.


By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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