The Old Oak Tree is one of Tusculum University’s better known landmarks and is the inspiration for the name of the annual Old Oak Festival held on campus in the spring. The tree, which is estimated to be 250-300 years old, is located next to the Old College building, the oldest academic building at Tusculum.
The tree is prominently visible in the large grass area between the Thomas J. Garland Library, Welty-Craig Hall and the Old College. It measures 273 inches in circumference and is 102 feet high, with a 124-foot average spread. There are only six trees of any variety in the state that are larger than the Old Oak.
In 2012, the Old Oak was named to the Tennessee Landmark and Historic Tree Register. A year later, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s forestry division declared the tree to be co-champion white oak with a competitor in Union County.
The university and its faculty, staff and students hold the Old Oak in high regard. In earlier years, Tusculum conducted the Lantern Festival, a beloved tradition on campus to honor Tusculum family members, at the Old Oak. In 2017, Tusculum alumni Ryan and Erika Barker expressed their affinity for the Old Oak Tree by choosing it as the setting for their wedding.
In 2021, one of the Old Oak limbs from fell during bad weather, but Tusculum made something positive out of this situation. Portions of the wood were used for a cross that hangs in the Scott M. Niswonger Commons, and an employee used other parts to make pens.
We are proud to have the Old Oak on our campus and look forward to it being part of the university for a lot longer!
All of the color photographs are courtesy of Katrina Serene Photography