Cornwall Manor in mourning for massive chestnut tree felled by recent weather

3 min read1,220 views and 158 shares Posted August 7, 2020

It was a solemn day at the Cornwall Manor Retirement Community as a massive European horse chestnut tree by Buckingham Mansion toppled over in a spate of storm activity.

According to an August 4 Facebook post, the tree fell the previous night from the front side of the residential mansion onto the porch, which suffered some damage. None of the residents or their living spaces were hurt or damaged.

Advertisement

The chestnut wasn’t just any old tree: it was one of Pennsylvania’s Champion Trees, a listing of impressive trees in the state maintained by arborist Scott Wade (measurement process detailed here). It was first nominated in 1985 by Gene Odato and last measured in 2009, when it stood almost 65 feet high with a 66-foot spread.

The impressive tree during the winter of 2009, when it measured nearly 65 feet high. (Cornwall Manor)
The tree landed on the porch of Buckingham Mansion, though fortunately nobody was hurt. (Photograph courtesy of community resident Henry Deemer)
Advertisement

According to Paul Weidman, vice president of Plant Operations at the Manor, the tree was likely around 150 years old, about double the age of the retirement community itself, which was established in 1949. Buckingham Mansion itself began as a 19-room house constructed in 1773.

Residents and commentators expressed their condolences for the tree, which had been regularly blooming for decades. Though the stump revealed that the collar and roots were partially rotted at the base, the trunk further up was solid.

A crew from Good’s Tree Service was called in to take care of the tree. The Manor has also asked for a sampling to be taken to better measure the tree’s age. (Cornwall Manor)
Advertisement
The crown and roots were partially rotten towards the bottom. (Deemer)

The European horse chestnut tree, Aesculus hippocastanum, is native to forests in the Balkans, though it has made its way to many parks and communities of North America. The species is currently listed by conservationists as vulnerable.

Trees are a fixture of community life at the manor, according to Public Relations and Volunteer Coordinator Stacia Layser. “We have a Tree Committee comprised of residents that are interested in the history, preservation and repopulating of trees on Cornwall Manor’s campuses,” she wrote in an email exchange with LebTown. The committee also selects an annual Arbor Day planting, and the Manor retains a “tree book” listing each planting and donated tree.

Advertisement

Though the loss of a beloved tree is always difficult, the woodland community is sure to recover as new trees are planted year after year, many in honor of loved ones. Perhaps a new tree planted on the grounds will grow to be just as venerated and majestic as the chestnut of Buckingham Mansion.

The tree in May 2020. (Cornwall Manor)
(Deemer)
(Deemer)
(Cornwall Manor)

Do you know a Lebanon County story we should share? Give us advice on what to feature next using the contact form below.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Give the gift of local journalism.
If you are thankful for what LebTown brings to the community, consider joining our cause as a member. Members get an inside look at our publishing schedule each week, plus invites to our members-only Facebook group and happy hours.

Sign up for an annual membership using the link below, and we’ll give you a free LebTown mug at the next happy hour.

Learn more and join now here.

More Stories