BASKING RIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A massive white oak tree, believed to be the oldest in the country, will have to come down in New Jersey.
The tree outside the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church and Cemetery is estimated to be about 600 years old. Arborists believe the tree has stood there long before the church was founded in 1717. It has been recorded that George Washington had a picnic under the white oak.
But the beloved tree’s brittle limbs and decaying branches have been deemed unsavable, according to Rev. Dennis Jones, who says it has to come down early next year.
“It’s a profound sense of loss that the tree has died and will soon be coming down, but at the same time it’s also a sense of new beginnings,” Jones said.
The entire community will come together next month to celebrate the life of the tree as suggestions continue to pour in on what to put in it’s place.
“We would never turn it into a parking lot, it will always be a sacred space,” Jones said.
In 1924, the center of the tree was rotting and the method back then was to fill it with concrete cement, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported in June. It prospered up until about a year or two ago.
The life of a white oak is usually 300 years. With a lot of love and tender care this beloved tree has doubled its lifespan.