As trees tumble, plans made for mementoes
Posted: January 3, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — As work began Wednesday on the Loudoun Street Mall improvement project, trees started coming down one by one.
But mallgoers may not have seen the last of them. They could return by the summer or fall of 2014 — albeit in a different form — as part of an art exhibit of original tables, chairs, bowls, vases and other woodworking pieces, said Tracy A. Marlatt, executive director of the Shenandoah Arts Council.
Before the first tree was cut, most of the wood was spoken for, Marlatt said. About 10 woodturners and four furniture makers agreed to take parts of the 42 trees on the mall and turn them into new creations.
The project is a partnership between the arts council and the city to find a worthy use for the trees, Marlatt said.
“It is an interesting opportunity to have a handmade, unique piece of furniture or piece of wood art from Winchester,” she said.
All of the trees should be down within the first week of work on the mall, said Perry Eisenach, the city’s public services director.
The zelkova and ash trees, some of which date to the 1970s, had to come down for the renovation to proceed — not because the city wanted them removed, he said.
“When Tracy suggested this project, it sounded like a great way for something positive to come out of it,” Eisenach said.
Most of the tree branches are immediately being turned into mulch, he said.
The trunks and some of the larger branches will be taken to the city yards, where the furniture makers and woodturners will pick them up, Eisenach said. Anything they can’t use will be disposed of by the contractor.
Several members of the Apple Valley Woodturners Club will participate in the project, using the smaller pieces to create platters, bowls, vases and other pieces, said Mark Zimmerman, club secretary. The members he talked to loved the idea of preserving part of the city’s history while creating something new.
They were especially excited when they found out the types of tree, he said. Ash trees, while native to the area, have been under attack by the emerald ash borer. He expects it to be “a wood that is in limited supply at some point in the not-too-distant future.”
Zelkova is a tree in the elm family that is native to Japan, he said.
“We are looking forward to having a chance to work with a unique wood as well,” said Zimmerman.
Timing is an issue because all of the raftsmen will want to start working with or treating the wood within days of the trees being cut down, Marlatt said. But the time the wood needs to air dry is lengthy — one inch of board thickness takes about a year — so she doesn’t expect to have pieces ready until mid-2014 at the earliest.
“Initially we have talked about having the show downtown,” she said. “It seems more fitting since they came from downtown.”
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com