Heritage Tree Program

Current Heritage Trees:

  1. Oregon White Oak, "Messenger Oak" Quercus garryana
  2. Hybrid Persian Walnut Juglans regia
  3. Copper Beech Fagus sylvatica
  4. Shagbark Hickory Carya ovata
  5. Incense Cedar Calocedrus decurrens
  6. American Chestnut Castanea dentata
  7. Camperdown Scotch Elm Ulmus glabra ‘camperdownii’
  8. Black Walnut Juglans Nigra

The Albany Heritage Tree Program was established to recognize, foster appreciation of, and protect trees having historic significance to our community.

City trees add the soft touch of nature to our busy lives. They cool our cities, fight pollution, beautify our neighborhoods, provide habitat for wildlife, and quite simply, create a more livable community. The intent of the Heritage Tree Program is to connect the past to the present by preserving historic trees for the enjoyment of future generations.

To be considered for Heritage status, a nomination for the tree must be submitted to the Albany Tree Commission. If the nomination is favorably considered and the owner is in agreement, the tree will be designated a Heritage Tree.

The program is completely voluntary and the City does not assume authority over the selected trees.

Oregon White Oak, "Messenger Oak"
Quercus garryana

Oregon White OakLocation: Heritage Mall, Geary Street and 14th Avenue SE

With a trunk circumference of 12.5 feet and a crown spreading approximately 90 feet, one of Albany's greatest oaks is appropriately showcased at Heritage Mall. Showing tremendous foresight, Roebbelen Engineering, Inc. preserved the Oregon White Oak in the mall's design plans in 1988.

At the turn of the century, the prominent Burkhart family owned much of the pastures surrounding the oak but the exact age of the tree is unknown. The age is conservatively estimated at a minimum of 150 years.

Tom Lundberg from Shade Tree Landscaping recalls delivering notes to his friends during the 1950s by placing the letters in the hollows of the large oak; hence, the name "Messenger Oak."

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Hybrid Persian Walnut Juglans regia

Hybrid Persian WalnutLocation: Department of Energy, 1450 Queen Avenue SW

With a trunk 15.5 feet in circumference and a crown with an approximate spread of 110 feet, this Persian Walnut is one of nature's finest creations and one of Albany's treasures.

Located on the wooded grounds of the U.S. Department of Energy, Albany Research Center, the walnut has an interesting and well-documented past. From historic photos provided by Stephen T. Anderson, the site can be traced back to roughly 1899, when a small wood-frame home and "Albany Nurseries" were located here. It later became the home of Albany College. Historic photos clearly show the walnut on the south side of Building 1 at the time of the dedication in 1925. During the period 1942-96, the U.S. Bureau of Mines owned the property and preserved the many large trees, including this magnificent walnut.

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Copper Beech Fagus sylvatica

Copper BeechLocation: 532 Ferry Street SW

Nestled between two historic homes in the Monteith District, this majestic Copper Beech is one of a kind. It is a purple-leafed variety of the Northern European Green Beech and was probably planted around the turn of the century. Even with its impressive trunk measuring 11.5 feet in circumference, the beech fits beautifully into the residential neighborhood.

The Pfeiffer House was built in 1900 by the prominent Charles Pfeiffer and his wife Catherine as a retirement home. The couple had moved here from Pennsylvania and had established the Revere House Hotel-"one of the most popular in the valley," according to Albany historian Fred Nutting. The home itself is in the Queen Anne style and is notable for its many fine architectural details.

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Shagbark Hickory Carya ovata

Shagbark HickoryLocation: Henderson Park, Calapooia Street and 8th Avenue

At first glance, this Shagbark Hickory situated among the cedars at the north end of the Henderson Park tennis court might not seem like anything special. However, it is probably the only Shagbark Hickory in Albany, and is likely very old.

One of the earliest property owners, Johnny Irving, was a leading businessman in town. Mr. Irving was also considered a "lawn artist" who transformed the property into "what many thought was the prettiest place in town," according to the late Albany historian Fred P. Nutting.

The last owner was Miss Maud Henderson who willed the property to the City. She passed away in the mid 1930's and shortly thereafter, Henderson Park was created. Many of the existing large trees can, without a doubt, be traced back to Johnny Irving, the lawn artist. This may be true for the hickory as well.

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Incense Cedar Calocedrus decurrens

Incense-CedarLocation: 406 6th Avenue SW

At slightly more than 17 feet in circumference, this Incense Cedar boasts the most massive trunk and is the tallest (100 ft.) of all the Heritage trees nominated. Distributed throughout California and Oregon, the species is exclusively a Western breed.

The Stewart House dates back to 1880 and is now dwarfed by the huge cedar, probably planted about the same time. The home was built by Claibourne H. Stewart and wife, Cora. 'Claib' Stewart served Albany and Linn County for over 70 years, first as a printer and later in positions as varied as county judge, volunteer fireman, co-owner of a hardware store, and postmaster.

Walking under an Incense Cedar that has just dropped its three-pronged seed and released its wonderful fragrance is an experience that one is not likely to forget. Try reaching around this magnificent tree. You will need the help of a few friends.

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American Chestnut Castanea dentata

Location: 393 Creswell Lane, N. Albany

“The American chestnut may well have been the most important hardwood in North America.” However, in 1904 that change quickly, as a chestnut blight caused by an Asian fungus Cryphonectria parasitica, was first identified on trees in the Bronx Zoo. Chestnut blight is characterized by cankers that kill bark and usually cambium and sapwood of twigs, branches, and trunks but not roots. Within 50 years, the disease spread across the chestnut’s native range, completely removing the chestnut, as a dominant species. The blight also appeared in scattered chestnut plantings in California, Oregon and British Columbia, but was suppressed by eradication and sanitation efforts (Journal of Forestry, February 2000). The tree in north Albany clearly depicts the spread of the disease. Most likely, the parent chestnut was planted during Albany’s early days. The land surrounding the chestnut was most likely farmed for barley to support the beer brewing pubs in Salem. The Willamette River was a convenient source of transportation for many products heading to Salem or further to Portland. In the meantime, the blight was spreading westward killing the above ground portion of almost all the chestnut trees. Root sprouts commonly sprouted around the base of the trees after infection. If proper sanitation efforts were taken, the new sprouts could grow successfully. This explains the multi-stem structure of the Heritage chestnut tree.

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Camperdown Scotch Elm Ulmus glabra ‘camperdownii’

Location: 547 7th Avenue SW

This unique tree species originated from a seedling at the Camperdown House, near Dundee, Scotland, around 1850. Used as an ornamental landscape tree, the campberdown elm, or umbrella elm, is known for its peculiar weeping branch structure. For this attribute, the tree was often planted in cemetaries. The species may be suspectable to the Dutch elm disease but currently is not at risk. Camperdown elm is usually grafted to the American elm rootstock. Displayed at the corner of the lot the camperdown elm is a fantastic specimen. In a park setting the pendulous branches would naturally weep to the ground. However, in this situation, the tree must be pruned annually in order to maintain safe visual clearances for vehicles and pedestrians.
The name camperdown has an interesting story behind it. In 1797, an English Navy managed to beat the Dutch Navy off the coast of Holland near the village of Kamperduin. The English corroborated the name to Camperdown (which is wrong, as “duin” means “dune”, not “down”). The English admiral Duncan, because of his victory, was allowed to call himself “Count of Camperdown” and established his estate. This unique weeping elm sprang up on the admiral’s estate and the new species was subsequently named.

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Black Walnut Juglans Nigra

Location: 1431 N.W. Highway 20

This tree is considered to be both one of the oldest and largest Black Walnut trees in the State of Oregon. The tree measures eighty three inches in diameter (twenty-two feet in circumference). The home it sits adjacent to was built in 1889. This walnut tree is at least as old as the house. For many years the nuts from the tree have been harvested for propagation, and it’s said the tree is mother to over five thousand seedlings.

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