A Tree Dies on Spring Street

by | Oct 23, 2020

The beech tree in 2011.

This story was amended Oct. 26, 2020.

It was a beautiful giant of a tree, rising above Spring Street for more than 100 years, possibly more than 200 years. Some purple (or copper) beech trees can live as long as 300 years. No one knows exactly how old this beech tree was when it died, just that it had been there forever. 

While no tree lives forever, this one died some years earlier than it had to.

Alas, large trees can be inconvenient, even in old neighborhoods like downtown East Greenwich. There are power lines to think about, and leaves, and what happens if a limb falls? In this case, it was the bulk of the trunk and the tree’s roots that did it in. At its base, the tree trunk (the trunk remains) is 17 feet around. When a neighbor needed to replace a sewer line, the roots of the tree stood in the way, so a few years ago, the roots were shaved. The tree was all right that first year. Then half of it started to die. But a big tree like that, it takes its time. It wasn’t until this spring that there was no new growth on the tree. It was just a giant dead tree, no longer a source of shade and beauty. Instead, it was a hulking threat – to the houses on either side and, potentially, even passersby. 

Earlier this month, the homeowners on whose property the tree grew paid to have the tree taken down. It was perhaps just in time. A week earlier a large limb fell onto a neighbor’s fence during a storm. Still, the removal of the tree was the end of an era. People aren’t planting too many beech trees in neighborhoods like the Hill these days. 

Farewell, majestic tree. If the homeowner is right, your replacement is already growing up behind you. One can hope.

If you are interested in trees, the EG Tree Council wants to hear from you. You can contact them at [email protected].

The tree in 2018, with the left half still alive.

The tree in spring 2020 – a bit of life at the base.

The beech tree coming down on Spring Street Oct. 6.

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Chris R.
Chris R.
October 23, 2020 11:23 pm

Amazing. I drove by that huge stump just today. Stopped in front of it and thought “what the heck kind of huge tree was that?” Now I know. Thank you!

October 24, 2020 5:42 am

So sad to watch a thing of Beauty die .

October 24, 2020 9:32 am

So so sad to read what happened to this tree! In fact, I was wondering what happened while I was passing by it yesterday…

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”

― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Ray Giornelli
Ray Giornelli
October 24, 2020 9:44 am

Memorable joys of running up Spring Street through the l
fall leaves on my way to the old Academy football field to join friends
for pick-up games. Hard to believe that the beautiful giant tree is gone.

October 24, 2020 8:51 pm

Joyce Kilmer of EG!

October 25, 2020 9:07 am

Climate change and its effects will stress every big beautiful tree around, and many will die prematurely. Interesting recent NY Times piece on the prospect of an arborist shortage in New England to deal with the problem. This tree succumbed to a driveway, but we should all advocate for climate and emissions policies to save others.


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