ROCK HILL, S.C. - Decorated with lights for the holidays, Winthrop’s Southern magnolia will receive one more adornment on Friday, Dec. 10.
Karen Hauck, director of the Trees SC organization, will present Winthrop President Anthony DiGiorgio a plaque for the tree’s selection as the 2010 Heritage Tree. The short ceremony will begin at 11:30 a.m. on the Tillman Hall front lawn.
The magnolia has stood as an idyllic icon in front of Tillman Hall for decades. Although its exact age cannot be determined, the tree appears on aerial photos from the mid-1910s. The stately magnolia attracts considerable attention during the holidays when it serves as the university’s Christmas tree.
The Heritage Tree plaque will be installed near the tree in January.
The Trees SC Heritage Trees program was developed in 2004 as a way to identify, celebrate and recognize the remarkable trees that evoke great community spirit in South Carolina. Previous winners are Charleston’s Angel Oak, 2005; Aiken’s Oak Allee, 2006; McClellanville’s Deerhead Oak, 2007; Irmo’s White Oak, 2008; and Clemson’s Centennial Bur Oak, 2009.
As part of the Dec. 10 ceremony, Debbie Garrick, executive director of the Office for Alumni Relations, will talk about the history of the tree which has been a part of the campus for many of Winthrop’s 125 years. Groups have gathered around it for years to sing Christmas carols.
The magnolia barely survived Hurricane Hugo in September 1989. A significant portion of the tree was sheared off during the storm, but it was deemed healthy enough to survive and has flourished. Winthrop’s 10-person grounds department monitors, cuts and trims the tree, one of 900 trees on the main campus.