SJA News

Academy to Restore Ancestral Elms on Brantview Drive

The Norway Spruce trees that lined Brantview Drive were in decline and a safety hazard. They will replaced with elm trees this spring as part of the Brantview restoration landscaping plan.

As part of the ongoing restoration of Brantview, St. Johnsbury Academy will plant 6-8 elm trees along Brantview Drive, and in doing so, begin to restore these magnificent trees to their campus. The trees will be planted next spring, prior to the reopening of Brantview.

American Elm trees were an important part of the landscape of both the Academy and the town of St. Johnsbury before they died from Dutch Elm Disease, actually a fungus spread by a beetle, in the mid-20th century. The Academy took this into consideration when planning Brantview's landscaping as part of its restoration, and in turn, asked the 50th Reunion Class of 1968 to help fund the project. The class was excited to raise funds for this effort. Peter Crosby, a member of the Class of 1968, Co-Chair for the Class of 1968 Fundraising Committee, and Academy Trustee, said, "The Class of 1968 is pleased to be a part of the effort to bring back the majestic elm to the St. Johnsbury Academy campus. These trees will further enhance the wonderful atmosphere of the Academy and link today's goals with the historical traditions of the school."

Prior to planting the Siberian Elms in the spring, the old Norway Spruce trees along Brantview Drive were removed on December 3. SJA Forestry instructor Jessica Bakowski said, "Many of the trees lining Brantview Drive are in decline and need to be removed due to safety concerns. Removing and replacing these trees will increase the safety of our campus."

Jessica Bakowski and the SJA Forestry class will mill the logs that can be salvaged from the spruce trees into lumber at the Academy's Field Campus in Danville. The wood will then be used by fine woodworking students in Matt Stark's classes in the future.

Tom Lovett, Headmaster of St. Johnsbury Academy, said, "This project is part of the Academy's long history of planting elms on its campus, including trees that were transplanted from the Calvin Coolidge Homestead in 1934. I am happy that we are able to restore some of that history. The added benefit of having our forestry and woodworking programs involved in this project makes this not only a fitting way to celebrate our 175-year history, which included notable students like President Coolidge, but also the present and future generations of Academy students."