A big tree on Rankin Place gets a big send-off

Massive tree trunk on its side

Hand-lettered sign: Big Tree ParkingThere was a gigantic red oak tree that towered over Paul and Barbara Phillips’ house at 805 Rankin Place. The house was built in 1910, and the tree probably was there then. By last fall, it was clear that the tree’s health was failing, and it had to come down.

After weeks of work, it had been taken down this week, and the branches had been cleared away. Sam Bridges of Bridges Tree Service invited some folks over Friday to say goodbye.

Chainsaw artist Ericksen Krietemeyer carved a bear into one end of the trunk. Master furniture craftsman Joe Schoolcraft came over from Sunset Hills to saw through a seven-foot length of trunk for wood to turn into tables. A preschool class of five-year-olds from First Baptist Church arrived to see something big happening. Some their parents came, too, and neighbors from Rankin and Mendenhall and Carr, a videographer from Fox8 News and two officials from the city’s Historic Preservation staff.

Over the course of an hour and a half or so, some 30 people paid their respects to one of College Hill’s grandest trees. It was a more fitting end that most trees get, even great ones like this. Our neighborhood’s tree canopy is one of our great assets, one that requires care, respect and awareness to maintain. Events like Friday’s should become a tradition, one that will help keep us from taking our trees for granted.

kids looking into a big hole in the tree

Everyone wanted to see inside …

kids inside the tree trunk

… and get inside.

guy with a chainsaw at work

Chainsaw artist Ericksen Krietemeyer carves a bear into one end of the giant tree trunk.

man leaning into a chainsaw rig

Joe Schoolcraft begins sawing through a seven-foot section of the tree.

close-up of an elaborate chainsaw

Joe’s chainsaw rig after he started to cut through the trunk

little boy looking into a hole in the tree

Everyone got to see where the bees had been and the honey they left behind …

children getting little spoonfuls of honey

… and then get a taste of pure honey straight from the tree.


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