After learning that the Avery Oak tree had been turned into a gavel after a thunderstorm knocked it down in July 1973, The Five-Year-Old asked perplexedly: “Why would they make a gavel out of it? Why not a historical coaster?”
Although I was unable to determine whether or not a historical coaster was ever made out of the wood of the Avery Oak tree, I did find this beautiful picture of the Avery Oak tree on Mark Holden’s website. Holden had been commissioned by a friend of a friend to turn a portion of the fallen tree into a beautiful wooden box, and found himself interested in the origins of the materials he was working with.
My brief Google search also revealed that the Dedham Historical Society owns a chair made from the Avery Oak tree.
Update: In May 2019, Johanna McBrien added a comment to this post to let me know that the Dedham Historical Society actually has quite a lot of information on the Avery Oak available to share with folks curious about this piece of Dedham history. In addition to the chair, the historical society owns both the gavel made from the Avery Oak and the land on which it stood. The Society also takes care of the new oak tree that replaced the original Avery Oak. You can find the Dedham Historical Society in Dedham Center between the post office and police station at 612 High Street. Thanks for letting me know, Johanna!
That brings the tally of objects known to have been made from the tree to one gavel, one box, and one chair. According to the “Avery Oak – gone but not forgotten” article on the Dedham Public Library’s website, several unidentified Dedham residents collected bits and pieces of the oak tree to save as mementos. The Five-Year-Old and I remain hopeful that an authentic Avery Oak historical coaster exists somewhere.
- Mark Holden, turner of wood
- Dedham Collection (Dedham Public Library): A collection of online resources about the history of Dedham
- Dedham Historical Society
Did you know that Dedham inspired my book about public art?
In the summer of 2012, Dedham Massachusetts was the site of a town-wide public art project. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.
My daughter, then 5 years old, adored this project and lobbied hard for me to chronicle the Dedham Public Art Project for Caterpickles. In the process of documenting each bunny, interviewing some of the local artists who painted them, and researching the answers to my daughter’s questions about why the bunnies looked the way they did, we learned a fair amount about the town of Dedham.
In addition to providing tips for viewing public art with kids ages 3-10, What’s That, Mom? offers much more detail on the 15 giant fiberglass rabbits featured in the 2012 Dedham Public Art Project, including a complete set of (higher quality) photographs, influences on their various designs, and several interviews with the local artists who painted the bunnies.
Order your copy today!