A previous version of this story stated that the USS Constellation was berthed at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. It is the USS Constitution that is berthed there.
Could branches from a giant fallen oak in Bluffton find a new home in the hull of refurbished clipper ship?
Perhaps a slice of the tree’s massive trunk — 10 feet around in some places — could get a few coats of lacquer and make for a nice dinner table.
Or maybe smaller chunks of the tree could be preserved and turned into plaques commemorating the local recovery effort following Hurricane Matthew, whose winds toppled the tree.
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These are some of the ideas being considered by Bluffton Historical Preservation Society leaders left scratching their heads as to what to do with the oak in the front yard of the 125-year-old Colcock-Teel House.
They know one thing for sure: “We don’t want to throw it away; we don’t want it to become just another big pile of mulch or firewood,” preservation society executive director Anthony Barrett said Thursday.
Katie Epps, director of the Heyward House — which is operated by the society and serves as Old Town Bluffton’s visitors center — said the fallen tree was discovered in the days immediately following Hurricane Matthew.
It’s fortunate the tree — estimated to be at least 300 years old — did not land on the Colcock-Teel House, but it’s shame to lose such a fantastic oak specimen, she said.
Barrett agreed, saying, “It does have that historical value; we’d hate to not be able to repurpose it.”
He said he has reached out to the U.S. Navy about using the wood for future rehabilitation projects on ships such as the USS Constellation, a frigate launched in 1797 and currently berthed at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston.
“We’re still waiting to hear back, and I’m going to touch base (with the Navy) again soon,” he said.
If the society can’t drum up interest from the Navy, “we could cut up” and turn the slices into furniture or commemorative art, he said.
“I’d like to have a slab of it and put it on the wall of my office,” Barrett said.
But before the preservation society can do anything with the tree, they need to figure out how to get it off the Colcock-Teel House lawn.
The tree, which stood several stories high before the storm, is so large “you’d have to get a crane” to move it even if it was cut into smaller pieces, Barrett said.
Companies have provided cost estimates as high as $25,000 for tree removal services — a sum far too high for the society to afford at the moment, he said.
So, the tree sits where it fell nearly two months ago.
“I’m hoping to get some support and ideas (about what to do with the tree) from the community,” Barrett said. “I don’t care how funky (the suggestions) are, we’ll consider it.”