In response to many inquiries as to the current state of the wood harvested from our Oak Tree, we thought it appropriate to provide you with this update.

The primary activity over the past several months has taken place at the Pollaro Furniture facility in Hillside. As noted in previous updates, Frank Pollaro has played an integral role in our plans to deal with the tree after it was cut down. Frank has made a commitment to honor our tree by making a communion table for the BRPC Sanctuary and a conference room table for Bernards Township. He has also promised a cross section of the trunk to BRPC to serve as a memorial to our tree’s incredible history. Frank and his staff have devoted countless hours attempting to salvage useable lumber from the tree limbs. The problem he has faced is metal and cement everywhere—some visual but most invisible until hit with saw blades. His sawyer has gone through 120 saw blades including 3 diamond blades, all in the process of creating the boards which will become the tables promised.

Handling the main trunk has been even more problematic. Frank had to commission the building of a custom saw large enough to cut across the trunk. He then brought in riggers and a crane to stabilize the trunk before cutting. And then the same thing happened—cement and more cement. It seems the story from the 1920s that 3 men could fit inside the open hole in the trunk (before cement was added) was true. Not to be deterred, Frank has managed to cut a cross section close to the bottom of the trunk for BRPC! One interesting side story to all of this activity was the discovery of a lead bullet in the tree presumably from the revolutionary war period! In addition to all of this action, Frank also has several smaller limbs which he has agreed to cut into small cross sections to create memorial discs similar to those made for the fundraiser in April.

Going forward, Frank is planning on having drawings made of the tables which he hopes to display at the church after the first of the year. We will then have to wait for the wood to age before assembly can begin late next year at the earliest.

The balance of the wood in storage has been secured for the winter. Much of the wood in storage has the same issues of metal and cement encountered by Frank. We are hoping that by spring we will develop a plan of projects for the wood that will be appropriate for the quality of wood available.

Saving the best for last, Frank’s team made a most incredible discovery while examining one cross section that was solid throughout. Using magnifying lenses, the rings of the tree were counted and re-counted several times. The result is our tree began its life in 1398, making it 619 years old at the end!!!! It looks like all of those estimates we have read about over the years were accurate—amazing!

We will continue to bring you updates of significant developments as they occur going forward.

Bill Emmitt and Jon Klippel