One of the landmark trees in Quincy has always been the Japanese Maple on the corner of 16th and State Street, in the front yard of the Hansen-Spear Funeral Home. This crimson colored leaf varietal, Acer palmatum, has even been
The original tree, which was arguably the largest Japanese Maple in town, was planted around 1941 by Helene Hansen after the Hansen’s bought the house at 1535 State Street to renovate into a funeral home. Previously the funeral home was near 9th and State where the Salem Church park is located.
The Hansen’s loved the color the tree provided throughout the entire growing season, from red leaf buds and seeds in the spring to deep burgundy leaves throughout the summer to bright red foliage in the fall. When they built their final home on Wilmar Drive, one of the first landscaping accents was a Japanese Maple.
A major challenge in building our current funeral home was how to ‘save’ the Japanese Maple. The easiest route would have been to bulldoze it during construction and replant when the building was complete. But ‘Grandma Hansen’ was ahead of her time in conservation practices, and had written into the construction plan a fine to the contractor if the Japanese Maple was damaged or destroyed. George Spear fondly recalled the workers speaking in reverent terms about “…looking out for Mrs. Hansen’s tree.”
As is the cycle of life with all living things, the original tree finally succumbed to too many years of squirrel abuse. Our part of Quincy is home to a plethora of squirrels, which for some reason took a liking to the bark of Mrs. Hansen’s tree. On occasion we would arrive at work to find that a squirrel had eaten an entire ring around a limb on the tree. Unfortunately that would result in the eventual death of that limb, and open up the tree to diseases that caused its eventual demise.
In 2006 that tree was replaced by the current Bloodgood variety of Japanese Maple. While not as majestic as its predecessor, the current tree gives us the same pop of color and is lit year around.
As we celebrate Arbor Day this Friday (April 28), take a moment or two to look at the trees in your yard and in this city. We are so blessed to have groups like “Trees for Tomorrow” rebuilding the canopy of trees that used to grace our avenues but have dwindled in numbers over the past few decades. And as we deal with wind storms as well as diseases and pests such as Dutch Elm Disease and the Emerald Ash Borer, look for your personal way to celebrate Arbor Day.
Call Todd Friye at Bergman Nurseries 217-222-1424 and purchase a tree for “Trees for Tomorrow” (at Hansen-Spear we have purchased three), go to a nursery and get a tree to plant, or call us at 222-4907 and see if we still have any of the 500 Meyer Spruce seedlings left from last week’s Earth Day Celebration here at the funeral home.
Our collective love of trees is one of the reasons that Quincy is a ‘Tree City USA’.