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Illinois College Sturtevant Oak Cut Down
The century-old emblem of Illinois College is gone.
Due to safety concerns, arborists deemed the oak tree outside Sturtevant Hall unsafe.
At Illinois College, the Sturtevant oak has overcome drought, ice storms and even cicadas, but now it's time for the tree to come down. Alumni and students we spoke with say the memories they have with the oak will live on.
To most, it's just a swing hanging from a large oak tree.
"People have cried on that swing, they've been engaged on that swing, probably big breakups on that swing," said Betsy Kennedy, a 1973 graduate of Illinois College.
But to the Illinois College community, it's much more.
"It's just part of the fabric of going to college here," Kennedy said.
"My husband and I actually both attended Illinois College together," said Jen Haschmeyer, a 2008 graduate of Illinois College. "We came here as high school sweethearts so we spent a lot of time on this swing between classes, just hanging on the quad with friends. We got engaged here on the quad and came back for our engagement pictures and wedding pictures."
The oak was there long before the swing.
"One morning we got up and the swing was there," Kennedy said. "Now it was a deep dark secret as to how it appeared. Well a couple of students came out, I don't know how they got up there."
But yesterday, alumni, kids and staff took one last swing.
Arborists said they've done everything to prolong the life of the Sturtevant oak.
"Lightning protection, we've air spaded the soil to decompact it, we've done everything we can but at some point the tree has to come down," said Alana Mckean, arboretum manager for Starhill Forest Arboretum at Illinois College.
That time is now.
"With as many dead limbs as there are in the canopy, the time is right to do it," Mckean said.
Limb by limb, the Sturtevant oak came down.
"It's really sad because it's always been a part of IC as long as anyone around here can remember," Haschemeyer said.
"It's become part of the family of Illinois College, so it will be missed by a lot of people," Kennedy said.
But not soon forgotten. Now arborists are working to find a new location for the Sturtevant swing.
Illinois College plans to preserve some of the wood from the Sturtevant oak to create something new for the campus. The college also plans to conduct genetic research on the tree with hopes of creating a clone to replant on campus.