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Tree In Greensburg Clock Tower Will Stay Put During Repairs

Crews will have to work around a precarious tree that's also become part of the city's history.

Greensburg tree

Photo: Steve Burns

The tree is growing out of the top of the courthouse roof.

Crews will have to work around an iconic tree that’s growing out of the top of Greensburg’s clock tower when they make repairs to the courthouse’s roof.

For over 140 years, a White Mulberry has topped the courthouse. Decatur County Auditor Janet Chadwell says it’s become part of the city’s identity.

“It gives us an identifying factor in our advertising and over the years we’ve become known as the ‘tree city,’” she says.

City officials suspect nature planted the original seed in the 1870’s, by either wind or bird. However, the 50-year-old tree that hugs the clock tower now is a direct descendant.

As seeds from the tree become wedged in the porous limestone shingles, saplings develop. These saplings are then maintained by the city in case the parent tree dies, so there’s always a tree on the courthouse roof.

But, the limestone shingles on which the tree grows are crumbling.

“There’s pieces falling off and the higher it is, the harder it hits when it falls,” Chadwell says.

Braces have been installed to slow down the corrosion, but Chadwell says a complete repair is now in order.

City leaders will decide on a bid May 1 and hope to begin repairs soon.

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