August 23 - After a thorough investigation involving debris left as the tree site, Regional Water Company police identified and arrested Curtis Pardee of New Haven on third-degree criminal mischief and third-degree trespassing in connection to the destruction of Hamden's "Door-Tree." The iconic landmark had stood for upwards of 175 years near Clark's Pond, on property now owned by the Regional Water Authority.
Pardee, who has admitted to the crime, acted alone. He was arraigned in Meriden on August 15th and will appear in court again on September 17th. He told authorities that he used an electric chain saw on June 28th to saw off the archway, then returned two days later to down the rest of the white oak.
RWA Officer Celeste Robitaille started investigating the crime on the morning on July 18th, less than two hours after it was reported to RWA and Hamden police. Robitaille discovered discarded letters to Pardee at the scene and a container of store-brand chain oil. The chain oil was traced to a local Lowe's store, where a check of credit card receipts and store cameras led to identifying Pardee.
The RWA has generously offer the tree remnants to the Hamden Historical Society so that wood from the 200-year old white oak might be used to make mementos to memorialize it. Plans with a local craftsman to make pens from some of the wood are in the works. There are other possibilities, including a two-dimensional display of what had been the archway. We will keep our web visitors posted.
Hamden's Legendary "Door Tree" Felled by Vandals
It was first photographed at the turn of the last century. During the next twelve decades, the Door Tree fascinated and enchanted countless Hamdenites and many others. It was an oddity of nature: two trees, one growing into another, forming a doorway-like arch.
Longtime Hamden Historian Rachel Hartley devoted a page to its photo in The History of Hamden Connecticut - 1796-1936 (1943). It was featured several times in Ripley's "Believe it or Not." It was a Hamden treasure.
Sometime in the very recent past, vandals took a chain saw, brought it down, then cut it up.
Quinnipiac University student Shayla Colon presents wonderful multi-media portrait of how Hamden has evolved, from colonial times to the present day. She has conducted interviews with several longtime Hamden residents who tell their stories of growing up in Hamden. Check it out.
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