Staff Photo by Tim Barber The Hamilton County Courthouse is seen through the many hardwood trees that make up the landscape at Walnut and Seventh Streets.
The new Osage orange tree will be planted at the Hamilton County Courthouse at Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
It may take 150 years, but Hamilton County officials hope an Osage orange seedling they are planting in front of the County Courthouse this week will one day become as storied as the large, legendary tree that once stood there.
The seedling's origin will be the first chapter of that new story. The Orange Grove Center — a center for local residents with developmental disabilities — donated the replacement for the county's more than 150-year-old Osage orange tree.
The old tree, which was beloved by county employees and the hundreds of residents who married under its branches, fell in September. Since then, the county mayor's office has been flooded with people wondering what would happen to the old tree, and whether it would be replaced.
"The Orange Grove Center is pleased to provide this tree to the county," said Kyle Hauth, executive director of the Orange Grove Center, in a media release. "We hope that this gift will have a long and healthy life in its new home."
The new tree will be planted Thursday on the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn.
County Mayor Jim Coppinger said a bench made from the wood of the fallen tree will be placed where the tree once stood and under the branches of the new tree.
Coppinger said some of the wood from the large tree will be used to make a second bench and a podium for the County Courthouse. He said it has not been decided what will be done with the rest of the wood.
"There was a lot of community interest in the tree after it fell," Coppinger said. "Not long after that, we received a call from Kyle Hauth, and he said the center would like to donate one of their trees and have it transplanted."
Coppinger said that having one of Orange Grove's trees would "serve as a reminder of the wonderful work done by the Orange Grove Center."
The Osage tree is the namesake of the Orange Grove Center. In 1953, the old Orange Grove Elementary School on Main Street was donated for the purpose of becoming home to an educational center for people with intellectual disabilities. Before the school's construction, the site had been home to a grove of Osage orange trees.
Hauth has planted several small Osage trees at the center's current location on Derby Street, and the tree's large, green fruit remains a symbol on the front of the center's building.
Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6673.