150 Year Old Black Walnut Tree at Decatur Presbyterian Must Come Down

Pastor Todd Speed writes in…

Attached is a photo of a beloved Decatur tree at the corner of Church and Sycamore that is reaching the end of its long life cycle. This black walnut is at least 150 years old and has graced the Decatur Presbyterian Church landscape for all of those years.

Sadly for all of us, the city arborist agrees that the time has come to take it down before it comes down on its own.

…the wood will be available for local woodworkers. This is a special tree that could result in some beautiful works of art.

22 thoughts on “150 Year Old Black Walnut Tree at Decatur Presbyterian Must Come Down”


  1. I drive by this church (and this tree) every day. It will be strange not to see it any more.

  2. It was a brave soul, living a life encased in concrete. We also lost a 150 year tree on Sycamore St. this year. Planting a big sunlight-happy flower garden was our consolation.

  3. I wonder if this has anything to do with what will be happening there soon regarding the sidewalk and parking spots?

    1. Yes, they asked for permission to take it down pending consultation with the City arborist. It is to be replaced, obviously with nothing as large.

  4. The plan to add sidewalks and parking was done in tandem with the tree analysis. The church was very committed to saving the tree if at all possible, but it has lived out its life. The approved plan will bring a new public/private space to the corner of Sycamore and Church and a more accessible ramp will be installed for those requiring assistance. The plan was approved by both the Decatur Historic Preservation Commission and the City Commission.

  5. I recalled this excerpt from a local blog last year: (Atlanta Unsheltered..not sure if it still exists)

    “Atlanta is losing its stable of tall, historic, shade trees at a rapid clip. As Greg Levine of Trees Atlanta says, the culprits are many: drought, heavy rains, new infrastructure including new sewers, etc.

    Sure… lots of us are planting trees in our yards and along the medians. But often residents are planting small, flowering varieties that won’t give us the same shade canopy that has made so many Atlanta neighborhoods such beautiful spots.”

    1. Which is why education and incentives are so important. Knowledge and value are powerful motivators. I’m confident that, if people were given choices of good, canopy-friendly 100+ year trees, and a good rationale for investing in them, they’d do it.

      We need to get beyond the culture of acting like the world is ending every time a tree needs to come down. When a person dies, we mourn the loss, and rightfully so. But we don’t act like humanity is in peril. We need to develop a similar tree culture as well. One where trees are repopulated through conscientious planting with such regularity that one loss, while saddening, is just an unfortunate part of the circle of life.

      1. There are some great trees around too still…On Nelson Ferry, I think, there is a great Tulip Poplar in someone’s front yard that has to be 150+ (Wanna see some great Tulip Poplars, and what this region looked like pre us check out Joyce Kilmer Forest!)…Others in the Buckhead area as well (Garden Hills). Some nice White Oaks as well.

        I think we’ll be in better shape 100 years from now. As the Water Oaks are slowly replaced by longer lived trees!

        1. Yes they are huge and wonderful….but the Hemlocks there have succumbed to the woolly adelgid, an Asian pest that came to our country in the 1950’s and finally reached the SE a few years ago.
          Some folks are working on a remedy, but who knows…

  6. I gathered several nuts from the sidewalk there years ago. DeKalb extension agent Walter Reed told me how to germinate them in the refrigerator. One of them grew into a fine tree in my yard. Agree on choice of small species typically planted now.

  7. BTW, according to Trees Atlanta, the Decatur Cemetery is home to three county champion trees.

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