News + Updates

How Olde Tree Came to Be

It’s Spring of 2020 and the Olde Towne project site in Raleigh, North Carolina is booming. Construction has started, dirt is being moved and McAdams’ staff is diligently working on site plans. While evaluating the site of the future apartment pod, a McAdams staff arborist accidentally found a massive, old tree in the middle of the forest. It’s a 58-inch caliper white oak with long, gnarled limbs that looks like something right out of a storybook. The initial observation was that it appeared healthy enough to evaluate for saving. Halle Group, the developer of Olde Towne, was keen to save it as a focal element. Olde Tree, as the white oak has been named, was generally in a location where the design team could update the site plan and make it a focal piece in the middle of an entry roundabout. Dubbed #SaveYeOldeTree, an effort across disciplines began to evaluate the tree for its health and viability as part of the final vision. At the time Olde Tree was found, the team was already going through the Administrative Site Plan Review approval process. McAdams hit a brief pause and changed the site plan layout and grading mid-approvals to make sure Olde Tree could be a part of the final design. After a few weeks of investigation and tweaking the plans, Olde Tree was officially incorporated into the future Villages at Olde Towne.

After discovering Olde Tree was somewhere between 100 and 150 years old, the McAdams team researched historic aerial photos of the old farmstead on UNC-Chapel Hill’s GIS library of USDA Historical Aerial Photos. Images from 1938 and 1959 show the old farmstead and a glimpse of Olde Tree in its younger days (Cyan dot on each image below indicates location)

Olde Tree may be what some refer to as a Homestead Oak. These trees are the large, sprawling, picturesque canopy trees that are often seen adjacent to farm homes or in the middle of open cow fields. When the farm is abandoned, a young forest of pines, maples and other fast-growing species grow up around the tree. Eventually, the Homestead Oak becomes hidden in a forest, a gem to be found by a hiker or, in our case, an arborist! Our State Magazine has a wonderful article on Homestead Oaks that can be found here:

 Stay tuned for more posts on #SaveYeOldeTree, including evaluation, preparation for construction and post-construction.