Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Campus trees commemorate legacies, history

At the University of Alabama, several trees offer more than shade; they offer a story. Dating back to before the University’s inception in 1831, the dedicated trees on campus tell varied stories of heroism and integrity.

Generally, under the sponsorship of familial or organizational connections, trees in certain areas of campus are memorials to the lives of those lost. Although the exact number of all previously dedicated trees is uncertain, a recent survey conducted by the University of Alabama Facilities and Grounds Operation sought to define the history surrounding the trees with greater clarity.

“During this survey, we made every effort to try and locate any plaque or stone that might indicate a tree was planted in dedication for someone in the past,” said Duane Lamb, assistant vice president of University Facilities and Grounds Operations.

A combination of natural elements and time affected the surveying process.

“Many plaques or stones were missing, damaged or illegible,” Lamb said.

Despite the loss of tangible markers, 71 identifiable, privately sponsored trees remain, including their legacy and history.

In addition to these 71 trees, another section of trees exists as a memorial solely for Tuscaloosa County natives killed in World War I. These large water oaks line the edges of University Boulevard, representing local heroism dating back to the early 20th century.

Several debates exist over the identification of the oldest dedicated tree on campus. With the conclusion of World War I in 1918, the commemorative trees along University Boulevard are perhaps the oldest trees on campus. However, there is no documentation that specifies the exact date on which the trees were planted, nor the age of the trees upon dedication.

“The project to plant these trees took place between 1920 and 1922, and assuming they were at least a year old when planted, it is believed they are between 93 and 95 years old,” Lamb said.

Also in contention for the title of oldest dedicated tree on campus is another well-established water oak located on the fringe of Rose Administration Building, which features a plaque dating its dedication to 1923. This particular tree, according to the plaque, was planted in honor of Ellen Peter-Bryce, the wife of Peter Bryce, the first superintendent of what is now Bryce Hospital.

Despite well-rooted beginnings, the tradition of tree dedication did not transcend past the 1990s.

“The University no longer dedicates trees on campus and has not done so for several years,” Cathy Andreen, director of media relations, said. “Anyone who wishes to make a memorial gift should contact the Office of University Advancement to discuss the best options for doing so.”

The University offers less visual, alternative methods of planned giving and remembrance. New initiatives place greater emphasis on student education, encouraging financial support through University managed donations.


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