The tree arrived as a gift for Washington, as just a sapling planted in half of a whiskey barrel. It is said that he planted it at Mount Vernon himself.
The tree was over 200 years old and believed to have been planted by President George Washington himself.
“Today at Mount Vernon, strong winds brought down a 227-year-old Canadian Hemlock,” said a post on Mount Vernon’s Facebook page. In addition to the famous tree, Mount Vernon also lost the Virginia Cedar that “stood watch over Washington’s tomb for many years.”
According to the historical landmark’s director of horticulture, the hemlock tree first arrived at Mount Vernon in 1791 and was planted in half of a whiskey barrel. The tree was a gift for the founding father, then president, from New York Governor George Clinton.
Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potomac River in Fairfax, Va., was the plantation home of George Washington, and his wife Martha, and had been in the Washington family for generations before George took possession.
Upon receiving the gift, the director of horticulture said, Washington then planted the tree outside of the upper garden gate.
“The D.C. area lost a lot of trees yesterday, but maybe none more significant than this 1791 Canadian Hemlock at Mount Vernon.” Rob Shenk, the senior vice president of visitor engagement for Mount Vernon. “George Washington himself likely knew this tree along his famous Bowling Green.”
Though it is disputed whether or not Washington physically planted the tree himself, the gifting of the tree was fully documented. The loss of such an old and historic piece of the landmark is one that is being felt at the landmark today.
The organization has said that they will be looking into options as to what to do with the wood from the tree. In the past, fallen trees (albeit ones of less significance) have been turned into collectible items, such as gavels and bottle stoppers.