As 2018 approaches, one major change is coming to the White House. But this is one no politician can take credit for — nor would they want to. The home to the Oval Office will change after the White House's Jackson Magnolia tree is cut down later this week. CNN reported that the tree, planted in the 1800s, has deteriorated beyond saving and will have to go, according to experts from the United States National Arboretum.
CNN reported that first lady Melania Trump made the final decision after reviewing documents from the tree experts. The tree was visible up many floors, including from the windows of the residence.
According to documents obtained by CNN, specialists described the situation as such:
Without the extensive cabling system, the tree would have fallen years ago. Presently, and very concerning, the cabling system is failing on the east trunk, as a cable has pulled through the very thin layer of wood that remains. It is difficult to predict when and how many more will fail.
The tree is to be cut down later this week, if you want to pass by the White House to pay your last respects. Once it's gone, groundskeepers will likely plant a similar tree in its spot. Offshoots have been growing nearby and are already about 8 to 10 feet tall.
Its days have been numbered since at least the 1970s when the tree first developed a problem with its trunk, separating into three. One was then removed, which exposed an open cavity. That was filled with cement, a technique which has since become frowned upon by experts today. The cement was then removed and replaced by a pole and cables, which are referenced in the experts' documents.
There is no longer a sound foundation, and the upper portion lacks sound wood for cabling. This half of the tree is considered a hazard. The west leader, on the other hand, could possibly be saved for a time, but will eventually succumb to the same fate. In addition, the high winds resulting from frequent helicopter landings complicates the future of the limb. It may fail in an unpredictable way.
CNN noted that the press corps stands near the tree whenever President Trump leaves in Marine One, putting the journalists Trump regularly attacks at risk.
We understand this is a historic tree, and all measures have been used to save it to this point in time. While we cannot comment on the need to preserve the tree as long as it stands, we believe eventually, the tree will fail.
If that's the case, the press corps may be writing Melania a New Year's thank you note.
Perhaps even more interesting than the tree's demise is its origin. The tree was planted by Andrew Jackson in 1829 using a sprout from his farm in Tennessee. He planted in memory of his recently deceased wife; he believed the divisive presidential campaign of 1828 may have contributed to her death. The tree was a way to remember her, historians argue.
The tree from which the sprout was cut stood near where Jackson was buried at The Hermitage, his Tennessee farm, until 1998. Since the D.C. offspring became famous, seedlings clipped from it have been given to foreign dignitaries and governments. Most recently, President Obama, gave a seedling to the people of Cuba on his state visit there. First Lady Michelle Obama gave another seedling to the USDA for its community garden.
The tree could be commemorated in other ways in the years to come. It used to be on the back of the $20 bill — perhaps bringing that back will help the Trumps pay it tribute after finally deciding that it must come down.