Wood from NFA beech stored to cure, awaiting future use

Norwich - It probably will take a while, but the beloved weeping European beech tree that graced the Norwich Free Academy campus for more than a century and a half will return in one form or another, Head of School David Klein said Friday.

Lindon Tree Service of Eastford cut down the tree Wednesday and Thursday, but the school asked that usable, salvageable sections of the giant tree be preserved for "a future project to honor the tree and its emotional connection to thousands," Klein said.

But first, the wood will be placed in storage in a secure place to cure before it can be worked into furniture or other use.

Klein said many in the community, including NFA alumni, faculty and students have suggested projects using the wood, and Klein said many of those ideas are "exciting." He has asked Slater Memorial Museum officials for input on any decisions to ensure that the wood's future use is "consistent with the history of the academy and of the city of Norwich and their rich legacy of superior craftsmanship," Klein said.

NFA officials decided to remove the tree Tuesday after receiving an arborist's report that identified three major problems with the aged tree. Weeping European beech trees have life expectancies of 100 to 125 years, and this tree was estimated to be about 160 years old.

The tree had "sudden branch failure," which is caused when moisture from the roots cannot get into the branches as well as sun scald from dead crown branches, which also led to beech bark disease. A 1,000-pound limb crashed to the ground recently, leading school officials to assess whether the tree could survive much longer.

NFA hopes to plant a new, much smaller weeping European beech tree in the same spot in the near future.

c.bessette@theday.com

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