Giant tree’s legacy is saved; stump converted to sculpted hawk bench


An old tree is getting new life as a sculpted bench.

When the Jones Foundation found out that the second largest tree in Cleveland had been cut down, it provided funding for the tree’s ancient stump to be transformed into something beautiful.

The tree, located on Centenary Avenue, was more than 100 years old.

Sculptor Oliver Cote is transforming the stump into a carved bench featuring hawks. The work is done with a chain saw. The piece will have one large bench and one smaller bench.

“He’s a very talented man,” said David Turner, whose mother owns the property on which the tree sits.

Turner said he had talked with Amy Banks of the Shade Tree Board and Allan Jones of the Jones Foundation about what could be done after the tree was no longer standing.

Carving a sculpture was the decision. Hawks that have been seen in the area became the inspiration for the design.

“We thought it was a good project,” Jones said.

Turner said the company that cut the tree down stopped counting rings at 117, meaning the tree would have seen at least that many years.

When the project is complete, a plaque will also be placed at the site.

“Instead of it being an eyesore, they more or less turned it into a thing of beauty,” Turner said.

Cote worked on the project for four days before needing to return to North Carolina.

“The first day was phenomenal what was accomplished,” Turner said.

Cote returned Tuesday to put on the finishing touches and incorporate a few additional elements into the piece, and add sealant to protect it from the elements. He expected to possibly be finished with the piece sometime today.

“I would encourage people to go by and see it,” Jones said.

The tree had special significance to the neighborhood.

“The tree was actually runner-up for the big tree contest a couple of years ago,” Banks said.

The contest, held by the Shade Tree Board, focused on size. This tree was not named the winner because it was considered a double-trunk tree.

“It started from two trees that kind of grew together,” Banks said.

Part of the tree was leaning toward the house next door and a neighbor had the tree cut down because of safety concerns.

“It was just such a magnificent thing that we hated to see go unrecognized, because it was such a big part of our neighborhood,” Banks said.

Banks said the sculpture would serve as a way “to honor its memory and its position in our neighborhood has remained.”

The Shade Tree Board oversees approvals for trees on public property to be cut down. Jones, who wrote the tree ordinance which was later approved and adopted by the city, said the board was created as a “speed bump to keep big trees from being cut down.”

While the board has no jurisdiction on private property, it does encourage preservation whenever possible, and other recommended best practices.


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