Through the Lens of The Five-Year-Old: The Bunny at the Old Avery School

The Five-Year-Old meets Avery Oak. (Photo: Shala Howell)

The ninth entry in The Five-Year-Old’s ongoing Photo Documentary series about the Dedham Public Art Project.

This week on Through the Lens, The Five-Year-Old visits “Avery Oak” by Cat Ciccolo Tucker. Local readers can find the bunny sitting on the lawn of the Old Avery School on High Street.

Although Tucker’s design is gorgeous on its own, her Rabbit becomes even more meaningful when you view it in the context of Dedham history.

The Dedham Town Flag. The Avery Oak actually appears twice on the town’s flag, in the lower left hand corner, and again at the center of the town crest in the middle of the flag. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Dedham, via Wikipedia.)

Now known primarily as the tree at the center of the town’s crest, the original Avery Oak tree played an important role in Dedham’s formation in 1636. During its lifetime, the Avery Oak stood on East Street near the Fairbanks House (the oldest surviving timber frame house in North America, built between 1637 and 1641). According to historical reports, Dedham’s earliest settlers used the tree as a meeting location and prayer ground.

With a circumference over 16′, the Avery Oak was exceptionally sturdy in its prime. When the Naval Act of 1794 was passed authorizing the construction of six new frigates for our nation’s fledgling navy, the builders tasked with constructing the U.S.S. Constitution wanted to use the Avery Oak to do it. They offered the owners of the tree $70, but the owners refused to sell.

The Avery Oak remained undisturbed until it was badly damaged in the hurricane of 1938. The Dedham Historical Society, which owned the rights to the tree at the time, worked valiantly to repair it, and kept the tree alive until a thunderstorm finally knocked it down in July 1973. At that point, the town used wood from the Avery Oak to carve the selectman’s gavel used in town meetings today.

And with that, The Five-Year-Old presents Cat Ciccolo Tucker’s “Avery Oak.”

(Photo: The Five-Year-Old)

From the side.

(Photo: The Five-Year-Old)

From the other side.

(Photo: The Five-Year-Old)

From the back.

(Photo: The Five-Year-Old)

And your close-up.

(Photo: The Five-Year-Old)

And another one, because Mommyo just loves those acorns.

(Photo: Shala Howell)

Be sure to tune in next week, when The Five-Year-Old visits “Not So Silent Spring” by Susan Angevin.

Avery Oak (c) 2012 Cat Ciccolo Tucker

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