Furniture Maker Gives New Life To Beloved 600-Year-Old Basking Ridge Tree

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A 600-year-old tree removed from a neighborhood in Basking Ridge after it died and threatened headstones, is starting a second life.

As CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported, there is a plan for the historic tree.

It’s now in the hands of Frank Pollaro, a long time furniture maker who said the huge job is an honor.

“The whole process starts with reverence. There has to be a very deep understanding of what the historical significance of this tree is,” he said.

It’s believed to be the oldest white oak in America. Pollaro said counting the rings inside the tree tells us a story.

“We can easily go back to 1776 or even 1492, or maybe even further,” he said.

The town of Basking Ridge grew up around the tree, and losing it was tough.

“We’ve had baptisms, we’ve had weddings, we’ve had funerals under this tree. So it’s sort of sad to see it go,” Michael Pasnik said.

“The story is that George Washington and the Marquis De Lafayette picnicked together and discussed their plans of the prosecution of the revolutionary war right here under the tree.

“I met a couple hundred people who were really, really sad about this tree,” Frank said. “Each piece that we cut from this will be a work of art, it’s starting to grow a second life now.”

The tree weighs about 48,000-lbs will likely be made into several huge tables, but the furniture maker said it takes a long time to figure out what should be created out of a tree, so he talks to it.

“I come out here two hours a day everyday since it arrived and just walking around and we’re talking,” he said.

He said the tree’s bumps and shape tell him what it wants to be.

He already has plans for the limbs. He’ll create tables for the church and town hall in Basking Ridge where the tree stood for centuries — he’ll take time while working in his shop.

“Everything we do is done by hand, no computerized anything,” he said.

He’s going old school to honor the old tree starting a new life.

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