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Preserving the Oxford oak

For about 200 years, the white oak stood on the land that would become part of the Oxford College campus, offering shade to the native Americans who lived on the land, and later, to the Europeans and Africans who came later.

But, when it came time to design and engineer the new science building on campus, it was clear the tree would need to be removed.

“They tried to preserve it, but couldn’t,” said Cathy Wooten, Director of Communications for Oxford College at Emory University. “When the ground was broken [for the science building] in May 2014, the tree was taken down.”

The oak wood ended up in the workshop of Summer House Furniture in Highlands, North Carolina. Owned by Oxford College and Emory University alumni Barry Jones and his wife, Paula, the furniture design company creates unique, rustic furniture.

From the Oxford oak, the Jones and their staff created an Arts and Crafts trestle table, 110-inches-long and 42-inches wide, and weighing over 1,000 pounds. The hand-planed table now sits in the lobby at the main entrance to the Oxford Science Building, and will eventually be used as a study table for students.

“This tree reminded me of everything that is great about Oxford, including unexpected opportunities, a chance to challenge myself, and learn by doing,” Jones said. “I hope this table will be a wonderful addition to education at Oxford for years to come.”

On a wall nearby, a flat screen monitor will share the story of the tree and the table, a reminder of the past to the generations that follow.