The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 44.0°F | Overcast

Crab Apple Trees Move to Killian

By Dan McGuire
News Editor

The unseasonal April blizzard closed the Institute flattened vegetation around campus. Among the casualties were the two grand, old crab apple trees that graced the sides of Killian Court.

The trees had to be cut down after they were damaged beyond repair during the storm.

The loss of those trees altered the appearance of Killian Court, and would have set the stage for an odd Commencement. "These trees skirt each side of the Commencement stage," said Norman H. Magnuson Jr., the route supervisor for grounds services on east campus. "The stage would look a lot different without the trees."

So this morning at 8 a.m., two large crab apple trees from outside of Building E53, which houses the Dewey Library, will make their way a few hundred yards to the west, where they will put down new roots in Killian Court. A third tree near E53 will move in front of Building 35, where another tree was lost.

Physical Plant pursued other options before taking the trees from E53, Magnuson said. "No nursery would have trees that large."

However, "sometimes people will sell trees that they have on their property," he said. A search for property owners willing to sell mature trees yielded nothing, though. Moving the trees from E53 was "the only option [that would allow MIT to get] these trees replaced before Commencement."

Tree transport is troublesome

MIT contracted the tree removal out to another company, Magnuson said. "We're not really equipped to do" the tree removal, he said. In addition, "We don't have the manpower to do that sort of thing, especially at this time of year," when the campus is being groomed for Commencement.

In preparation for the move, holes have been dug around the trees near E53, and the root systems were trimmed. The contractors "had to cut a lot of the roots so that they could have a manageable" sized ball of roots and dirt which could be wrapped in burlap for transportation, he said.

A crane will be at E53 this morning to lift the trees onto a flat-bed truck, Magnuson said. With the help of the police, they will bring the trees down Memorial Drive to Killian Court. "We have about 150 to 200 sheets of plywood to protect the grass" and allow the crane and the truck to move to the location of the old trees. The stumps of the old trees will then be removed and disposed.

The whole process should take "a minimum of six hours," Magnuson said.

Staffers sorry to see trees go

People in the area of E53 were sad to see the trees go. "It's the one piece of greenery that we have around here," said Alison L. Salisbury, the administrative officer of the Department of Political Science. For "those of use who have our windows facing out the back, all we see is the asphalt and the roof of the Dibner Building [Building E56]."

"It's nice to see some greenery," she added. "I hated to give them up, but it was to a very good cause."

"Every spring when they're in bloom, it's a welcoming sight for a very impersonal building," she said.

"I'm going to miss [them. They are] part of your day," said Helen F. Ray, an administrative secretary in the Department of Political Science. "I pass them every morning as I come in. They're just part of you, and you miss them when they're gone."