Obituary: Beech Tree at the Nightingale-Brown House Garden

Last month, the John Nicholas Brown Center lost an old friend, the beech tree that stood on the grounds at the corner of Power and Benefit Streets. Believed to be well in excess of 200 years old, the tree was witness to many changes in the land, buildings, and people that surrounded it. The tree was home to squirrels and birds who ran and rested upon its branches and a shady spot to many humans sheltered by its limbs. Severely weakened by internal decay, the topmost section was torn away by a storm several years ago. To prevent its inevitable and untimely collapse, tree surgeons performed its final removal on October 27.

The tree will live on in the creations of the many artists who took parts of its trunk and branches, and in the spring its presence will be replaced by a newly landscaped area highlighted by a bench inspired by Edwin Lutyens' Thakeham Bench of 1902.

Here are some photos of the tree from the past years and of the tree removal process in October 2021.


The beech tree was featured in a short film shot on a Bolex camera for MCM 0710A Introduction to Filmic Practice: Time and Form (Instructor: Jennifer Montgomery) in the summer of 2021 by Hana Butler Gutiérrez'24, Lana Hadziosmanovic'24, and Kyra Douglass'24.  Filmmakers write: "This was our first roll of color film, and when we saw the Nightingale-Brown House garden, we knew we had to film there. Our only instructions for the film were to use movement in our shots, rather than still frames. We were transfixed by the tree, which is why the film started and ended with shots of it".