Historical Treasure from the Grove

 

This white oak tree comes from the front lawn of The Grove at Virginia Tech which serves as the university president's residence. The tree died due to Amillaria root disease and was dated to be 314 years old. We will never know the precise age of the tree because white oaks can take many years to reach the height where this disk was dated. This puts the birth of this tree sometime before 1700!


The Drapers Meadow (now Blacksburg) settlement was established in 1749 along one of the earliest and best routes over the mountainous ridge.  Before that time, the area where the Grove tree grew was primarily forested hunting ground for both the Cherokees and Shawnees. Many such oaks, even older ones, still thrive at the Grove.

Dendrochronology

Dendrochronology on a tree disk to determine its age and marking key historic events. Each slab registered to where it comes from in the tree and ready for creating unique historical mementos.

Processing the Tree

Once the oak tree was sawn it, was dried and processed into full slab lumber. Below are some photographs of the process. A 3D model of the tree (also pictured) was created using remote sensing technology. 

The Product

To push the envelope of entrepreneurial risk, this year the WEI team is doing something extraordinary. The WEI team’s plan is to craft two or three custom high-quality tables made from the 314-year old white oak tree that came from the Grove. The goal is to incorporate the location and history of the tree into the design to produce a one-of-a-kind “must have” item. This goal shifts from what we’ve done in the past in mass production more towards marketing and promoting not only a product, but also the unique story behind it. Below are some concepts of what the tables might look like.

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Our Prototype

To compliment the white oak from the 314 year old Grove tree, this table also artistically features wood from the historical sycamore tree on the Henderson Lawn.  The table design is inspired by the natural character in the wood.  Curves used in the table top and stretcher followed the natural curves surrounding the tree pith.  The live edge table top is the focal point with a solid, attractive, and functional base that fits many decors.  Mortise and tenon exposed joinery is used to securely attach the table to legs while allowing for natural wood expansion and contraction.  Mortise and tenon pegged joinery was used to fasten the stretcher between the legs for an elegant look.    Pre-catalyzed lacquer was used to finish the table for exceptional wear and durability while not interfering with the natural beauty and color of the wood .

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