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Group worked fast and saved historic Northern Kentucky tree

Posted at 5:42 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-12 21:07:53-04

EDGEWOOD, Ky. — Kenton County School District officials planned to cut down a ginkgo tree in front of R.C. Hinsdale Elementary School in Edgewood, but then a group formed online to save it.

Kenton County School District spokesperson Jess Dykes released this statement Saturday:

On behalf of the Kenton County School District, we recognize the importance of the beloved Ginkgo tree to the school and the larger community. The district is reviewing all options to ensure we can protect the tree through construction. District staff have taken necessary steps to ensure that the tree is protected and will not be removed as part of school construction. Our goal is to provide world-class facilities for our kids and we will continue to work to find alternative solutions at Hinsdale going forward.

"The outpouring of emotion for that tree has been overwhelming," said Star Smith.

Her child went to school at R.C. Hinsdale Elementary School, and she works nearby.

"The whole school was built around that tree and it's just so neat. So when you're in the school, each pod is named after a tree. So, there's a synergy going on there," said Edgewood City Council member Ben Barlage.

Barlage said he traced the tree as far back as the 1800s, when Civil War veteran George Phillips used the property as a holiday spot.

A 1918 Kentucky Post clipping mentions an American flag ceremony next to it when a well-known attorney named John O'Neal owned the land.

It has become tradition for graduating classes to take a picture in front of the tree.

"There are so many graduates of R.C. Hinsdale and Northern Kentuckians who have a special place in their heart for the tree," said Barlage. "Now, as an architect, I also know that sometimes, sometimes architecture and space takes precedence, and there's a reason to cut down a tree."

"It just has a lot of history that I don't think Edgewood should lose," said Smith. "We already have a lot of construction going on.