Storm Topples Copper Beech Tree In Sandwich

A giant copper beech tree lays in pieces in an Old Main Street yard. The massive tree, which is estimated to be older than 150 years, fell during last week’s blizzard. It was one of two copper beech trees in the stately yard.
DON PARKINSON/ENTERPRISE - A giant copper beech tree lays in pieces in an Old Main Street yard. The massive tree, which is estimated to be older than 150 years, fell during last week’s blizzard. It was one of two copper beech trees in the stately yard.

An old friend said good-bye to Sandwich last week.

A massive copper beech tree believed to be at least 150 years old toppled to the ground at the Madden homestead on Old Main Street during last week’s blizzard.

The good news is that no one was hurt by the falling tree, whose trunk measured six feet across. Nor did the tree fall on the Madden house, which it no doubt would have severely damaged.

But the demise of the grand old tree has saddened people throughout the community.

Parke H. Madden, who grew up in the house and whose mother, Diane Madden, still lives there, said people have been coming up to him all week to talk about the big copper beech.

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Drivers all week have been pulling off the road in front of the house to take in the spectacle, some even offering condolences.

Diane Madden said she was sitting at the kitchen table doing office work during the March 26 storm, when at approximately 3 PM, she heard a huge thump. She immediately thought of the copper beech tree, looked out the window and saw that the tree had gone down. She said the leaves and branches on the tree shook for 15 minutes after the tree had come down.

The property may have lost one 150-year-old copper beech tree, but it has kept another, apparently planted at the same time, which stands to the right of the house.

Still, even that brings a sad note. Passersby will recall how the two trees, one to the left and one to the right, framed the house “so beautifully,” as Mr. Madden puts it.

Mr. Madden’s wife, Jennifer Y. Madden, said she was truly saddened by the tree’s demise.

“It was old enough to be a historic tree,” she said.

When the tree fell, it barely missed a light post in the yard. It did, however, hit another tree and knocked some limbs from its partner tree.

“We’re just lucky it didn’t hit the house,” she said.

She and her husband remember how the tree’s heavy foliage used to form a canopy over the house and the yard.

At a certain point in the autumn, Mr. Madden said, the leaves of the tree, true to its name, would turn a striking copper color.

But the Maddens also knew in recent years that the tree’s end likely was drawing near.

Ms. Madden said the tree was starting to shed small branches and larger limbs.

“This was a tree that we had our eye on,” Mr. Madden said.

The family says copper beech trees have extensive root systems so they know they will not be able to remove it all. A small amount of the trunk will remain and they will plant ivy to grow over it. They also plan to plant two red maple trees on either side of the stump.

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