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].