John Glenn’s Arlington Home and Beautiful Mature Trees Destroyed, by Gary Anthes 

May 29, 2020

This historic home, just across from Williamsburg Middle School, has now been torn down.  John Glenn’s beautiful mature trees are being destroyed as well.  

The house (shown in picture No. 1) was a modest but attractive house with two large oaks and a mid-sized tulip poplar in the front yard. The house was torn down recently to make way for a million-dollar-plus McMansion. In keeping with standard Arlington practice, all three trees were cut down immediately. The bigger a new house’s footprint, the more profitable it is for the builder, and the less likely any tree will be spared. Nevertheless, the big oak at the extreme front-left corner could have been saved.


The picture below shows the thumb of the big yellow destruction machine pressing on the stump of the largest of the two oaks. It was left that way at quitting time by the unfortunately named Twin Oaks Tree Care company.

There’s a marvelous but profoundly sad little children’s book, written and illustrated in 1964 by the poet Shel Silverstein, called The Giving Tree. It tells of an apple tree that “loved a little boy.” During the course of the book the tree gladly offers to the boy her leaves for play, her trunk for climbing, her branches for swinging, her apples for eating, and her shade for napping. “The boy loved the tree, and the tree was happy,” we are told.

But the boy grows up. He cuts off all the tree’s branches to make a house, and he finally cuts down the tree trunk to make a boat. At the book’s conclusion the boy has grown into a tired and bitter old man, and the tree is reduced to a stump. But, in the generous habit of trees, she offers her stump to the man to sit on. He accepts her last offer, “and the tree was happy.” 

In the final indignity, these stumps will not be left for anyone to sit on. They will be grubbed up by the big yellow destruction machine, loaded into a truck, and carried off to a chipping facility, or to a landfill by the tree “care” company, where they will join the remains of thousands of other giving trees.