RANDOLPH, NJ- Dating back to 1720, the Liberty Tree (located behind Bank of America at the corner of Quaker Church Road and Center Grove Road) is the last tree left living in Randolph since the Revolutionary War. The almost 300-year old tree is one of 26 designated historic landmarks in town, but unfortunately, Friday August 31 will be its last day standing.
In recent years, the tree has been slowly dying. This summer an evaluation determined the tree had deteriorated to the point to where it could easily be knocked down in a storm. The recommendation was made that it should be removed to protect health and safety.
Several years ago the Township’s Landmarks Committee contacted Dr. Tom Ombrello, a professor at Union County College specializing in propagating old trees. Dr. Ombrello volunteered his services to assist the committee with an effort to grow a new tree from the acorn of the original tree. The effort resulted in a seedling that was growing in a greenhouse overseen by Dr. Ombrello.
The White Oak is one of the slowest growing species of trees. Dr. Ombrello had recommended that the Liberty Tree seedling be given a protected environment for several years before it is placed outdoors. However, It has recently been reported that the seedling did not make it, since White Oaks are very hard to propagate.
The Township plans to spare any of the healthy wood from the original Liberty Tree upon its removal for the creation of a sculpture to memorialize the tree.
During the Revolutionary war, forges in Randolph were continuously stoked with trees that grew in the area. The forges were used to melt down the iron that was mined from our lands and made into cannon balls, rifles, and other items needed for the war effort. The Liberty Tree survived that and lived for another 250+ years.
The tree will be taken down on Friday Aug. 31, with the work taking place between 9 am and 12 pm during which time the road will be closed. TThere will be detours in both directions; the detours will utilize Center Grove Road and Quaker Avenue. Motorists should plan an alternate route or allow additional travel time.
Photo Credits: Ela Ravin