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Print

Historic trees of Charleston

August 11, 2008 at 06:13 AM

of The Associated Press

CHARLESTON, Ill. (AP)—The huge bur oak tree on the east side of Eastern Illinois University’s Old Main building is kind of like the university’s alumni, Andy Methven thinks, because both are “pretty widely distributed.”

The tree is older than the university itself, and Methven, an EIU biology professor, said he’s spoken to several graduates who said they’ve taken seeds from the tree to plant elsewhere.

His estimation that the tree’s offspring might be growing across the country is believable because it’s thought to be about 210 years old, based on “its size as much as anything else.” The fact that the tree’s been there so long is the reason it’s been added to a list of significant places that also includes historic buildings.

In May, the Coles County Regional Planning Historic Preservation Advisory Council designated the bur oak and others as historical trees. A group of 10 bald cypress near the EIU student union and a black oak in Charleston’s Morton Park once thought to be the largest in the state also received the designation.

Kit Morice, the council’s chairwoman, said the trees were added to a new category the council has to recognize sites and landscapes, to go with the its designation of historic buildings.

Morice said the mature trees in older neighborhoods “speak to the history of this town” and are “part of the fabric” of those neighborhoods, some of which are historic districts. The trees at EIU are a good example of what the designation is supposed to represent, she added.

“They’re part of the old campus,” Morice said. “It’s kind of a holdover from what the campus looked like in the early 20th Century.”

Methven said many people think of the bald cypress trees as swamp trees and they are common in southern states, but they can still be found in southern Illinois. They’re on the historic list because of the arrangement in which they were planted and how long they’ve been there, probably 90 years or more, he said.

“They’re not native to up here but they grow very well,” he said. “They seem to do fine all over town.”

And there’s only one black oak tree in Illinois that’s larger than the one at Morton Park, and at one time it was designated as the “state champion” for being the biggest one, Methven also said. There’s a plaque with the original “champion” designation etched on it on the west side of the tree.

Methven is also a member of the Charleston Tree Commission, which helps the city with problem trees as well as makes its own designation for “trees of merit” and provides information on trees’ importance. He said the trees added to the council’s list are also some of the ones commission has recognized.

Other city “trees of merit” are a tri-color beech at a private residence on Douglas Drive along with ginkgoes on the EIU quad and dawn redwoods on the north side of the university’s Life Sciences Building. The beech has green and white leaves along with pinkish ones as well, and the other two species were once thought to be extinct, Methven said.

The owners of property where there are trees that receive the merit designation received certifications, he added, and there are plans for a plaque to be placed in City Hall listing the trees, their locations and why they received the designation.

“We hope people in the community would nominate trees,” Methven said.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I live here at Charleston ..I have some early 1900’s photo’s of the ‘old campus’... back then it was normal state and not eastern ill.I tried to post a pic. but was unable too in the comment’s…I have a bunch of Pic.‘s from the old dam and lake view park at charleston.early 1900’s..Some pic.‘s of the old blakemore bridge being built and the first horse and buggy crossing the bridge the day it opened in 1907..wish I could post the pic.and share them with you guy’s…I still cross that bridge every day on the way to town…I live within walking distance of the bridge.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/11 at 07:02 AM
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/11 at 02:52 PM

the pic. is of Normal state university…or as it better known as eastern ILL. univesity…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/11 at 02:54 PM

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2152/2228617492_c4e84f4620.jpg..this is a pic. looking from campus up seveth street in charleston towards the square and the court house….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/11 at 02:57 PM

both these were taken around the 1900..

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/11 at 02:59 PM

this is a pic of the first horse and buggy[far left] to cross the Blakemore bridge south of charleston at the lake..but of coarse the lake wasn’t there then that early spring day in 1907…....http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3176/2756748844_3f68f51aba.jpg

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/12 at 06:57 AM
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/12 at 07:17 AM

The River View Park was a dance hall from the late 1800’s to the mid 1940 .this guy played music there .I have a copy of the song he wrote about the Ambraw river.i’v often wondered what the song sounded like .I don’t suppose it’s been played in over 50 year’s.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/12 at 07:19 AM

he also give’s a small account of the last battle between the white settler’s and the Indian’s.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/12 at 07:21 AM
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/12 at 07:23 AM

this is the cover of the sheet music I have.those are picture’s of the old dam and the middle picture with the guy standing in the muddy road,well I still live just a few hundred yard’s up that road but it’s no longer mud

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/12 at 07:25 AM

Those are awesome pictures!
Thanks for sharing them with us.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/12 at 09:01 AM

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