The Evolution of the Japanese Maple: from Landmark to Logo

The Japanese maple has been a fixture at Hansen-Spear for 79 years (since 1941). Walter and Helene Hansen’s house at #12 Wilmar Drive also featured a Japanese maple that Nick and I would play in and under when we were little.  The Japanese maple has long been a family favorite for its beauty and the memories it invokes of our grandparents and great-grandparents.

It is no wonder then that the Japanese maple planted on the corner of 16th and State*, in the first year after moving to their new and permanent location, became a part of our logo 30 years ago.  In 1990, Jeff and Theresa Spear proposed that Hansen-Spear begin using the Japanese maple leaf as a logo for the business.  George and Charlotte, the owners at that time, embraced the idea because they too saw the Japanese maple leaf as a natural fit for a logo.  The logo has been updated and enhanced over the years to more accurately reflect the beauty and structure of the Japanese maple leaf.

In the past year, as we celebrated our 90th Anniversary, I found my grandmother, Charlotte’s, brief handwritten story/draft about the Japanese maple as I went through pictures and files in our archives.  It was featured in the Quincy Herald Whig sometime in the 1980’s.  It landed on my desk again this Arbor Day and I took that as a sign that it was time to share the story.

Japanese Maple – Acer palmatum
by Charlotte Hansen Spear

Japan is the ancestral home of the maples.  The artistic and skillful Japanese gardeners developed a great number of beautiful garden varieties.  It is a dwarf form of maple, low and spreading, as if it show the wonderful form and exquisite coloring of its foliage.

The Japanese worship beauty such as this variety of garden maple shows; and in the autumn when the Japanese maple reaches its utmost perfection, a grand national fête is celebrated.  The people dress for a holiday and go forth “to view the maples.” It is as much a time for rejoicing as the spring jubilee of the cherry blossoms.

Japanese maples are among our most beautiful exotics and are quite at home in American gardens.

Color: Red in spring.

Dark red in summer with green on one side of the leaf.

Brighter red again in fall.

Tree planted in same location in 1941, shortly after the Hansen’s moved their funeral home to the 16th and State location.  It was approximately 4 feet tall at that time.  Since then, two Japanese maples have been planted on the east lawn of the funeral home. **

We feel the beauty of the Japanese maple makes the waiting many years for it to grow well worth it.



* The current Japanese maple tree was planted in 2006 and is not “Mrs. Hansen’s Tree”; however, a start from that tree can be seen across State Street from the West Parking Lot.

** The two extra Japanese maple trees planted on the east lawn had to be sacrificed during the construction of the new funeral home in 1965.

*** Jeff wrote a blog a few years ago about the original Japanese maple at 16th & State and how the modern funeral home was constructed around this tree: Our Japanese Maple/Mrs. Hansen’s Tree

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