Wednesday, March 4, 2015

SHSU Botanical Study- Evans Complex & Red Cedar Tree (Tree of Lights) Part 2 of 2 SELF GUIDED MAP #2



This Red Cedar tree is located in the Evans Complex.  It was known as the "Tree of Lights."

According to an article in "The Huntsville Item, October 9, 1989, page 1," the original plans in 1959 drawn up by the architect would have taken this tree down permanently.  Instead it was spared, but severely trimmed. 

Originally early in the 1900's  the landscape looked quite different than it does now in 2015.  The Evans Complex was bare except for the Agricultural Building at the north end and a cluster of large trees.  The only tree to survive was the Red Cedar that still stands proudly in the middle of the courtyard.

Red Cedar proudly stands

There has been discussion over the years as to the age of this majestic tree.  Back in 1989 when this article was published, a retired SHSU Biology professor, Claude McLeod believed the cedar was about 100 years old or even older.  So next time you enter the building for a class, just think you are passing by a tree that is at least 126 years old.

"'In the 1930's and 40's it was so magnificent a tree that it was lighted each Christmas season, and students and administrators enjoyed a Christmas carol program around it', Tyson said."

Reportedly the tree had a perfect Christmas tree shape.  Also, townspeople could see the lighted tree where the gazebo is located on Avenue O and 19th street.

In 1938, Harry F. Estill, President of SHSU was quoted as saying," Most other trees on campus shed their leaves when the cold frosts of winter com, and their naked branches now stretch cheerlessly and bare toward the winter sky.  This tree, defying the storms of winter, steadfastly and bravely maintains its beauty throughout the year-a lesson of unweaving courage in the face of discouragement, of cheerfulness that never frowns."

A view through Skylights of the Red Cedar

Many people still continue to enjoy seeing the cedar from the classrooms and offices located in the Evans Complex. 

The saving of this tree was compared to the preservation of the Dallas pageant tree on Oak Lawn, and the "Treaty Oak," in Austin.

The Tree of Lights ceremony moved from this location to Old Main from 1966-1982, until Old Main burned down.  Then during the construction of the bell tower in 2004, the ceremony was moved to the AB1 mall area in front of the LSC.  2005 brought the first lighted artificial tree decorated with ornaments created by different student organizations, This yearly tradition shares: hot chocolate, wassail, gingerbread cookies, and donated food items needed by local organizations.

Until Next Time.

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