The landmark Old Oak tree on the Tusculum College campus has been named the co-champion white oak in the State of Tennessee.
After measuring the Old Oak earlier in the month, representatives of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division announced that the tree is tied with the previous champion -- a white oak in Union County -- making them now co-state champion trees.
The Tusculum College tree measures 273-inches in circumference and 102-feet in height (two inches higher than a 10-story building), according to a news release from the college.
The tree also has a 124-foot average spread.
According to Tom Simpson, regional urban forester, there are only six trees of any variety in the state that are larger than Tusculum College's Old Oak.
"We've always known that the Old Oak was special, and we are thrilled with its new designation as a state champion," said Dollie Boyd, director of Museums of Tusculum College.
"We hope that the tree will thrive for years to come and that future generations of Tusculum students will be able to celebrate and appreciate this wonder of nature," which was built in 1841.
It is estimated to be between 250 and 300 years old.
It has remained a noticeable feature in the area since before the Rev. Hezekiah Balch founded Greeneville College in 1794 several miles south of Greeneville.
Greeneville College and Tusculum College, which was founded in the early decades of the 19th century, merged in the mid-1800s to become what is today Tusculum College.
The oldest building on the Tusculum campus, Old College, was built in 1841 in the Old Oak's shade, and the tree has witnessed major events in American history such as the Civil War and Reconstruction.
In addition, of course, countless Tusculum students have spent time beneath the tree's branches.
Last spring, the Old Oak was officially named to the Tennessee Landmark Tree Register.
The Landmark and Historic Tree Register allowed for a brief history of the tree to be added to the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council's website, and provided for a plaque commemorating the tree, and funding for a sign at the tree's location.
Tusculum itself is the oldest college in Tennessee and the 28th oldest in the nation.
The college is a liberal arts institution committed to providing a liberal arts education in a Judeo-Christian and civic arts environment, with pathways for career preparation, personal development and civic engagement.