The large madrona tree on Eighth Street near Cherry Street in Port Angeles was dismantled Monday, Dec.7, 2020. Some of the larger pieces were to be hauled away. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

The large madrona tree on Eighth Street near Cherry Street in Port Angeles was dismantled Monday, Dec.7, 2020. Some of the larger pieces were to be hauled away. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

Ted’s Tree, one of the largest in the state, dismantled

85-foot-tall madrona stood for more than 400 years

PORT ANGELES — Jackie Serr Miller watched as blocks of the giant madrona tree that bore her father’s name crashed to the ground Monday.

Each falling piece of the dead evergreen produced a thud that resonated around Eighth and Cherry streets in Port Angeles, where Ted’s Tree stood for more than 400 years.

“I’m sick to my stomach,” Miller said from a safe distance on the south side of Eighth Street.

The 85-foot-tall madrona near the east end of the Eighth Street bridges was a local landmark named by Virginia Serr in honor of her husband, Ted Serr, who died in 1997.

Jackie Miller, daughter of Ted Serr, holds a piece of the tree. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

Jackie Miller, daughter of Ted Serr, holds a piece of the tree. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

Ted’s Tree Park at 231 W. Eighth St. was Virginia Serr’s memorial to her husband of more than 50 years.

“She died at the end of March, and by the end of May, the leaves all turned brown,” Miller said of the two surviving stems.

The stately tree had to be cut because its massive crown extended over West Eighth Street, a sidewalk and Madrona Children’s Academy.

“It was a public safety issue,” Miller said.

Eighth Street was closed Monday morning between Cherry and Oak streets for the tree removal.

Crews with North Star Earthworks and Pacific Northwest Tree Service began the project Friday and completed the work by about 1 p.m. Monday.

“It went really smooth,” said Andy Pittman, owner of North Star Earthworks.

“Our goal was to get off the road by 3 o’clock so we weren’t impeding traffic too much. We beat that by about two hours.”

Large stems of the sprouting tree were cut to heights of about 30 to 40 feet.

“The hazardous ones that learned towards the sidewalk were taken down as low as feasible,” Pittman said.

The tree had a base circumference of about 21 feet and was “at least 400 years old,” said Tracy McCallum of the Strait Turners woodturning group.

“It’s one of the biggest in the state,” McCallum added.

Portions of the wood will be donated to Strait Turners, which will turn the dense, dark-hued wood into poles, vases and other items.

“Some of it will end up firewood,” Miller said.

“Madrona is some of the best firewood you can get.”

Some of the wood was stolen from the site over the weekend, Miller said.

In 2013, Port Angeles arborist James Causton said the madrona tree was terminally ill with a root fungus caused by excessive groundwater.

Pittman said the Miller family paid for soil work to prolong the life of the tree.

“It’s been so close to the community for years,” Pittman said. “They have watched it decline pretty steady.”

Casey Balch of PNW Tree Service cuts off one branch at a time with a chain saw as the madrona at Eighth Street near Cherry Street in Port Angeles is slowly cut down Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. Balch tosses a branch down to a team of men who grind up the smaller branches from the tree. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

Casey Balch of PNW Tree Service cuts off one branch at a time with a chain saw as the madrona at Eighth Street near Cherry Street in Port Angeles is slowly cut down Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. Balch tosses a branch down to a team of men who grind up the smaller branches from the tree. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

It was not known Monday what would become of the remaining stems. Ted’s Tree sits on a parcel owned by the Serr estate. It is leased to the neighboring Madrona Children’s Academy.

“Several ideas have been put forward,” Miller said.

“The idea of building a treehouse using this (main stem) as a base has been presented, which is a fabulous idea.

“The only problem might be that it wouldn’t meet the city’s setback requirements, so I don’t know if they’ll let that happen or not.

“They’d have to make an exception,” Miller added. “I think this is an exceptional case.”

Miller said her original idea was to make wood sculptures from the stems.

“My father loved working on wood,” Miller said.

“He made furniture and hand-carved door fronts and all those kinds of things. My dad was a dentist, but his hobby was woodworking.”

Ted Serr had long admired the madrona tree as he passed it on his commute.

Virginia Serr bought the 7,000-square-foot commercial lot for $57,000 in July 1999. In 2006, she installed the “Ted’s Tree Park” sign and worked to maintain the tree.

Pittman said it was decided by the family to leave more of the large stems than originally planned.

“You can always take a little bit more of the wood off later as the plans change, but once it’s gone now, it’s gone forever,” Pittman said.

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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