By Jeff Sauve, Associate Archivist
Center for College History
The college archives has many photos of various people posing at historic landmarks found on campus, such the Ladies’ Hall Elm. The tree itself was located on the hillside near present day Holland Hall.
This photo resonates with me because the photographer, O.G. Felland, rarely created “holiday” compositions. I’m drawn to the sled at the base of the tree, the contrast of the new-fallen snow and the hollow’s darkness. Apparently the tree’s cavity had been burned out to prevent further decay. It was possible for a person to squeeze into it — to ponder, study or memorize.
With the construction of Holland Hall in the mid-1920s, Ladies’ Hall and the elm tree had to come down — the tree by dynamite, no less. In As it Was in The Beginning (1950) author Georgina Dieson Hegland noted that “Professor Felland was on hand with his camera to take a last picture. For him it was the occasion of losing an old friend, and he feelingly spoke out: ‘Who would take down that tree should be put in jail.’ The thoughtful John Berntsen lovingly put aside several big chunks suitable for making Norse kubbe stoler.” (A kubbe stoler is a chair carved from a large section of log, common in Norway in the 19th century.)