IU began removing the famous Sweetheart Tree inside the Chemistry Building on April 11, University spokesman Chuck Carney said. The tree’s health had been declining for years, but suspicions of rot led the University to finally remove the legendary American Beech.
After soil has been replenished, IU intends to plant a new tree as a replacement.
“It was something that had to be done,” Carney. “There wasn’t any way to save it.”
Campus lore alleges when the Dunn family sold land to IU, they mandated the tree be protected because their oldest daughter and her sweetheart carved their initials into the tree's bark.
However, according to a story posted on IU's pride and traditions page in January, "the deed to Dunn’s Woods indicates that the Dunns never mandated the protection of the Sweetheart Tree."
The tree has stood outside the Chemistry Building since its construction in 1931, according to the traditions website, and when an addition to the building was constructed in the 1980s, architects decided to build around the beloved beech.
After the tree is removed in sections over two days, Carney said the pieces will be examined to determine if portions can be repurposed into something for the campus to treasure.
“If there is a good section, perhaps something could be saved,” Carney said. “It’s just not clear at this point.”
Carney said the tree has sentimental appeal among Hoosiers, and the University wanted to make sure people knew why the tree had to come down.
“Every effort was made to preserve it,” Carney said. “It’s a historical piece of campus, and we’re sad its time has come and gone.”
Those interested in helping support campus trees can donate to the Bloomington Campus Tree Restoration fund here.
This story has been updated to include comments from the IU spokesman.