The large hemlock that has stood for more than 20 years in front of the Spruill Gallery at the corner of Ashford-Dunwoody Road was recently cut down after it had outgrown its space and also to make room for a monument sign for the new complex being developed at the site.

Robert Kinsey, CEO of the Spruill Center for the Arts, said the tree was cut down and mulched Aug. 16.

The Spruill Gallery with its large hemlock tree to the left. The tree was recently cut down. (Google maps)

“The ‘tree’ was actually a grouping of tree trunks running up the center,” Kinsey said in an email.  “A couple of the trunks were about 8-inch in diameter at the base; another 2 or 3 were 5-inch or 6-inch in diameter; and another 5 or 6 were less than 4-inch in diameter. So there was no single large tree trunk to re-purpose in any way.

“In fact, I had researched whether such trees could be grown from cuttings: the thought being that we could have an offspring from the ‘Huge Tree’ that would live on in another location on the property,” Kinsey said.

“However, sources said it is almost impossible to grow those trees from cuttings; they only grow from seeds.”

Kinsey issued a statement about the tree to residents wanting to know what happened to the tree. The tree was reportedly about 3-feet high when it was planted in the early 1990s.

“Spruill Center folks at the time thought it would be an attractive accent on the corner of Ashford-Dunwoody and the newly-created Meadow Lane. What they apparently didn’t think through was that it would grow into a giant!” he said.

When the city broadened the intersection a few years ago, including the addition of the semi-circular stacked-stone walls, the tree kept overgrowing the walls and the corner, Kinsey said.

“It also became an obstruction to traffic sight-lines at the intersection. The Spruill Center had the tree’s diameter cut back a couple of times over the past several years, but that only seemed to encourage more growth! Additionally, the tree blocked almost all of the view of the historic Spruill Gallery building from southbound traffic on Ashford-Dunwoody Road,” he said.

“Finally, in late 2013 a plan was accepted by the Spruill Center to develop the surrounding Spruill Center property. In the site plan/landscape plan approved by the city of Dunwoody, the huge tree on the corner was to be removed,” Kinsey said

“In a portion of the area occupied by the tree, a monument sign for the entire development – and including the Spruill Gallery – is to be erected. The exact permissible placement of the monument sign is under discussion with the city. The sign will probably be installed in the next four to six weeks,” he said.

Many new hardwood trees are to be planted on the 5.2-acre site as part of the development, more than were there when the property was undeveloped, he said.

“Back then it had lots of scruffy pine trees, briars, trash-trees and weeds. Not to mention the occasional homeless person campsite. There will now be nice new landscaping throughout the property, including a new sidewalk and a handsome tree and shrub buffer lining Meadow Lane Road. A terrific garden area is planned between the Fogo de Chao restaurant that is being built and Ashford-Dunwoody Road,” Kinsey said.

“It was a bittersweet episode when the tree on the corner was removed. It was beautiful and had been admired for a long time. But it had overgrown its surroundings and the adjacent intersection and was expensive to keep trimmed back. The new landscaping to be installed will be very nice,” he added.

The Spruill Gallery reopens Sept. 15 with an opening reception for the exhibit “Ruination” after it was closed for renovations over the summer.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.