It’s an official Tree City USA as recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation and has a city Tree Commission that names a Tree of the Year (almost) every year, but for the first time Ashland will have its very own Oregon Heritage Tree.
A ceremony is set for Friday, April 6, during Oregon Arbor Week to induct the “McCall Magnolia” as one of three in the 2018 class, which the Oregon Travel Experience calls a diverse group of trees spanning the state.
Two are in urban settings: the Yang Madrone in Corvallis and the McCall Magnolia in Ashland. The third, GeerCrest Orchard, is nestled in rich Willamette Valley farmland.
Until now, the closest state Heritage Tree was up on the Green Springs, where the Tub Springs Sugar Pine was the first sugar pine to be elected to the Oregon Heritage Tree list in 2012.
Friday’s event will be held at McCall House Bed and Breakfast in Ashland, the site of the McCall Magnolia, starting at 1 p.m. at the McCall House Bed and Breakfast, 153 Oak St., Ashland.
The McCall Magnolia was planted 127 years ago in front of the renowned home of John M. and Mary Elizabeth McCall in memory of John’s daughter Elsie, who died in 1890. While a southern magnolia’s life span can be greater than 100 years, it is rare that this species can thrive in this climate for so many years. Recent photos show it towering over the grand home built by the McCalls in 1883. The McCall House still contains some of the original family furnishings and is a popular Ashland bed and breakfast inn.
John was a founder of multiple business enterprises and served in many public service capacities including as a councilor and the mayor of Ashland, member of the Oregon State Legislature (1876), a Captain in the First Oregon Cavalry (1861), and Brigadier General of the Oregon State Militia (1865). He formed the first local bank, woolen mill and the newspaper, the Ashland Daily Tidings.
Nancy Appling, Oregon Heritage Tree Committee member and Ashland resident says, “As the first Oregon State Heritage Tree within the city of Ashland, the McCall Magnolia couldn’t have been a better choice. It’s an attractive, healthy tree, and is in such a prominent place for downtown visitors and locals to admire. As with all of the program’s heritage trees, this one has an important story to tell about the Mc Call family’s numerous contributions to early Oregon history.”
A reception with live music and special surprises will follow the dedication event, featuring local Harpist Dayton Mayson as well as the Elegant Bustles and Bows Historical Costume Group.
“It has been a privilege for me to have had the opportunity to be a steward of this wonderful home, it’s history, this magnificent Southern Magnolia beloved not only by this community of Ashland, but now also recognized in the State of Oregon, home of the most beautiful trees in the country,” said Millis McLaughlin, managing partner/owner of the inn. “The McCall’s built this home to become the center of hospitality in Ashland, and my entire staff and I strive to maintain their vision for our guests and residents.”
Dedications for the Yang Madrone and the GeerCrest Orchard are planned for summer and fall.