R.I.P. to the courtyard tree

Life and prosperity, wisdom and stability—for all that trees have symbolized throughout the ages, it seems fitting that an institution as old and august as Princeton University Press would have its own. That tree has long been the unusually attractive one gracing the center of our distinctive, circular courtyard entryway on William street. Flanked by periwinkle and rosebushes, some thought it was cherry, others were sure it was a Siberian crab apple. Either way, it saw countless outdoor celebrations, greeting staff and visitors alike with its shower of petals that, though sparser with each passing spring, were never less welcoming. Though no one at the Press could recall when exactly the tree had been planted, we were sad to learn that in spite of heroic efforts to stave off our graceful friend’s fragile health, the case had been deemed too dire. On a sunny Friday morning, we arrived at work to the sound of chainsaws. Within the space of an hour, the tree was gone, mementos placed in the kitchen for long-time staff. They were claimed in minutes.

courtyard tree removed

A replacement will be planted in due time—this time Carpinus caroliniana—a beautiful variety with fluted, blue-gray bark, no petals, but leaves that offer, according to various arboretums, “a kaleidoscope of color throughout the year.” New things will grow.

But old things will be remembered for how lovely they were. Goodbye, old friend.