Arbor Artist crews last week removed a diseased white oak—perhaps more than 300 years old—from the front lawn of the Marshall House in Leesburg, but the tree’s wood will continue to play a role at the Leesburg historic site.
When Gen. George C. Marshall bought the Edwards Ferry Road home he named it Dodona Manor, a reference to an ancient grove of sacred oaks in Greece.
The health of the property’s large oak—which took root long before the town was founded in 1758—has been a concern for several years and this summer the decision was made to cut the tree down.
“The tree’s been in bad shape for the past 15 to 20 years, and its interior has been showing decay,” George C. Marshall Center board member Joe May said. “It’s very, very fortunate it didn’t come down on the house.”
It’s between 300 and 330 years old, according to May, who said he counted its growth rings that showed it started to grow in about 1700.
It was May’s idea to repurpose the tree’s wood into collectables, rather than cut it up for firewood.
John Hare, a manager at May’s company EIT and woodworking hobbyist, will lead the effort to make collectors’ items for donors. Hare had showed May some of the items he has made, including pens and pencils, and agreed to take on the new challenge.
“The Marshall people will take it on with Johnny and me—he’s used to working on my harebrained schemes,” May said.
They hope to have the new Marshall memorabilia ready by Christmas.
“I thought who could be a better person to have some of his favorite quotations on the items, or made into paper weights. We have the ability to engrave images of him along with other information to use as desk pieces,” May said.