Boston is home to more landmarks and historic sites than one could possibly see in one visit or even a lifetime so I know that the home and office of Frederick Law Olmsted, the founder of landscape architecture, doesn’t receive the same visitation as say the site of the Boston Massacre or Paul Revere’s house or Harvard or (one of my personal favorites) Fenway Park.
If you were lucky enough to visit Olmsted’s historic home and office before last month then you no doubt saw the American elm that graced the center of the expansive lawn. I was lucky to work in an office, located on the corner of the second floor (shrouded in vines in this photo I took about five years) with a view of the elm. I watched the elm’s shadows move over the snow in winter and was grateful for its shade in the hot humid summers.
Tree specialists often visited the site to monitor the old tree and their report was always peppered with words of caution that the end was near. Somehow their words, as true as I knew them to be, fell on deaf ears. The tree had lasted this long. Surely it could keep on ticking.
Unfortunately it reached the end of its life this year and was taken down at the end of March. This time-lapse video captures that day and also in some strange way expresses the life the tree possessed. It almost comes alive, even as it’s being taken down. Its majesty is captured on fim so that even those who didn’t get a chance to see it in person will have a sense of its place in this historic landscape.
I have a small piece of the elm that was given to me when I left Boston. And I’m excited to hear that the wood was donated to the Rhode Island School of Design for their artists to create something beautiful out of a life that was long and distinguished… and prized by one of America’s most renowned designers.