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140-year-old white Oak tree is breathing new life at the Atlanta History Center

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    Atlanta, GA (WGCL) — A 140-year-old white Oak tree is breathing new life at the Atlanta History Center.

And you’re invited to sit around the new tree table – six feet apart, of course.

“This is the actual piece that was the base of the tree,” said Kirk McAlpin III, the woodworker for the project.

The White Oak tree that sprouted around 1880 outside of the Atlanta History Center has been declining for a number of years.

“I was looking at this tree, thinking, what can we do with this,” said Sarah Roberts, the Vice President of Goizueta Gardens and Living Collections at the Atlanta History Center.

They decided to honor it’s long life by giving it new life in an interesting way, utilizing all salvageable lumber…. in total there were 36 slabs all from the one tree.

“I wanted to take the tree and have be made into a table that looked like its original form,” Roberts added.

They hired Gunnison Tree Services to take the tree down in eight and ten-foot sections.

“They had it milled into three-inch slabs, and it sat drying for two years,” added McAlpin.

McAlpin and a team of experts spent seven months planning, measuring, designing, and bringing the lumber to life.

“It’s very complex, the design, when you’re considering that all of these pieces of wood were very long, and many of them weighed more than 300 pounds,” McAlpin said

The tree table is 60 feet long, 30 feet wide…

“The table was built in the spirit of a gathering place, and although that’s challenging right now, thankfully it’s huge, so there’s plenty of room,” McAlpin added.

“The tree table was in motion long before this happened, but what this allows you to do is have a socially distant picnic,” said Roberts.

Each piece was hand-planed, shaped, sanded, and finished.

“There was a lot of attention to detail,” said McAlpin

And what could be more appropriate than recycling a piece of history at a museum dedicated to preserving the past.

“We’re a history center, and also a public garden, so we care deeply about all of our trees and about history,” Roberts said.

The new Tree Table is open to the community, cleaned daily, and ready for visitors.

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