Society Honors 3 on 1st Anniversary of Door-Tree Felling
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.
On Saturday, June 28, 2019, a disgruntled individual took a chain saw and destroyed the archway of the Door-Tree. Two days later, he took the entire tree down.
On Tuesday, June 30, 2020, members of the Hamden Historical Society gathered at the Jonathan Dickerman House to commemorate the first anniversary of the tree's total destruction by honoring three individuals who were instrumental in the investigation that led to the identification and subsequent arrest of the perpetrator.
The same day news broke that the Door-Tree had been destroyed, Clinton resident Dave Landino of D.L. Heritage contacted Hamden Mayor Curt Leng. He explained that he was a woodworker who, among other things, specialized in making turned pens. "I would be happy to donate my time and metal materials," he wrote, "to turn a number of pens from the wood from The Door-Tree."
Through the generosity of the Regional Water Authority, the Hamden Historical Society was given permission to harvest wood from the Door-Tree for various future projects that would memorialize the tree. Mr. Landino was the first recipient of Door-Tree wood to make his commeorative pens. Earlier this year, Mr. Landino finished crafting five of these beautiful pens from the white oak of the Door-Tree.
- CLICK ON ANY PHOTO BELOW TO ENLARGE TO 1500 PIXELS WIDE -
Photos by Barbara Johnson
One of five commemorative pens made by Dave Landino from the wood of the Door-Tree
Left to right: Society Board Member Betsy Gorman; Elwood "Woody" Hoyt; Batt. Chief Ron Desroches and Asst. Chief Charles Lubowicki, Hamden Fire Deparment; Officer Celeste Robitaille of the Regional Water Authority police force; Ted Norris, RWA V.P. for Asset Management; and Hamden Historian Dave Johnson, preparing for the pen presentations.
Left to right: History Room folks - Paul Saubestre, researcher; Kathy Lindbeck, history room archivist; Julie Hulten and Gail Cameron, researchers.
Kate from RWA and Mike, videographer/reporter from WFSB Channel 3 News.
Watching the pen presentation from a safe distance, the Society's master carpenter Bob Zoni took time out from his outstanding restoration of the Talmadge Cider Mill Barn, nearly destroyed in the 2018 tornado. Bob estimates that the job ought to be completed by mid-summer.
Johnson presented Woody Hoyt with his commeorative pen. On Wednesday evening July 18 of last year, Woody discovered that the Door-Tree had been vandalized and immediately brought it to the attention of the Historical Society.
Woody, a native of Hamden now living on the West Coast, was then on one of his frequent visits to Hamden, when he always liked to check up on the Door-Tree. Court records indicated that the vandal had destroyed the tree the previous 30th of June.
Officer Celeste Robitaille joined the RWA police force after serving 25 years with the Stratford Police Department, where she retired at the rank of lieutenant. Off. Robitaille responded immediately to the scene, investigated the vandalism, and collected crucial evidence. Her outstanding investigative skills led to the identification of the vandal in two days, and his subsequent arrest shortly thereafter.
Mayor Curt Leng
Hamden Mayor Curt Leng stepped up to the plate immediately upon learning of the vandalism that brought down the Door-Tree. His assistance to the Society in the hours following discovery of the damage was invaluable. His subsequent efforts to memorialize the tree are sincerely appreciated by the Society and all those who have appreciated the significance of the Door-Tree as an iconic Hamden landmark.
Hamden Fire Department Asst. Chief Charles Lubowicki accepts a commemorative pen on behalf of Hamden Mayor Curt Leng, who was unable to attend. Thank you Asst. Chief Lubowicki and Battalion Chief Ron Desroches for attending today's pen presention.