SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A tree estimated to be between 200 and 500 years old is seeing a decline in health and will have to be removed outside the Springfield federal courthouse, according to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

The Springfield federal courthouse was built in 2008 on a 2.5 acre site along State Street. The building was designed to be built around two trees, a European Beech and a Linden. Both trees are estimated to be anywhere from 200 to 500 years old.

It is believed that when George Washington was President, he rested beneath the tree during a visit to Springfield. The two trees have been called the “Citizens of Springfield” for their long watch over the city’s growth and development.

Unfortunately, the Beech tree has seen a decline in health since 2010. For more than 12 years, GSA has worked to try and restore its health but have been unsuccessful. By January 2022, the Beech tree was in clear distress and was in an advanced state of decay with branches falling off the tree.

Professional arborists applied prescription fertilization, soil amendments, canker treatment… but the tree’s condition only worsened.

“Over the years, every effort was made to protect and preserve this beautiful tree. We remain committed to doing the right thing for trees on the courthouse grounds,” Region 1 Public Buildings Service Regional Commissioner and Acting Regional Administrator Glenn C. Rotondo said.

The decision to remove the tree was made in fall 2022 and is estimated to be removed sometime in May. Once removed, GSA will work with architects to continue the story of the courthouse. The Linden tree will continue to stand on the property.

Fred Lowenthal, owner of Sparky’s Services told 22News, “Typically, there’s tell-tale signs, excessive dead limbs, once there starts to be a lot of insects that are attracted to the tree, lack of canopy growth, lack of foliage in the canopy, are very large tell-tale signs.”

Dangers posed by dying trees include lawn and property damage, as well as a threat to human safety.

The tree will be remembered through a quilt already on display inside the Hampden County courtroom.