Turning over a new leaf: centuries-old tree transforms into newest feature at Allen County park

Local News

LEO-CEDARVILLE, Ind. (WANE) – Leo-Cedarville community members recently wrapped up work to help a centuries-old tree turn over a new leaf at the town park.

The black walnut tree stood longer than the town itself as it was an estimated 200 years old. However, most of the tree was chopped down earlier this year due to safety concerns.

Many town residents were disappointed over the decision, including Leo Parks Department Board Member David Gall, since the tree was viewed as a historic staple of this park.

With most of the tree sawed off, Gall set out to preserve what was left of it. Using inspiration from the park playground’s name, “Imagination Station,” Gall created a “munchkin house” using a variety of salvaged parts and the bottom half of the tree. With the help of other community partners, Gall spent nine months on the munchkin house before unveiling it to the public last weekend.

Meanwhile, smaller sections of the tree were sawed off and converted to table tops that now surround the park. Gall says these tables can also serve as a history lesson for kids as they learn about the tree itself.

The Munchkin house little library

“Kids are able to go and count the rings of history on the tree that’s inside the park,” Gall said. “To have that education available for them – that trees around Indiana could live 250 years old, sometimes 300 – that’s kind of cool for them to understand.”

Finally, a little free library was installed in the side of the munchkin house, which allows kids to borrow and drop off books as they please. Gall says about two-thirds of the books that were initially stocked have been borrowed.

Gall said he has heard positive feedback from the community on this repurposed tree. With the park serving as a main attraction for the Leo-Cedarville community, Gall is happy that this project is able to enhance the playground environment for future generations.

“I played in this playground as a young child, so the trees have been around here forever. For them to be able to play and be around that – the leaves, the tree, the shade – it’s a great family spot, and that’s a really cool part of the park.”

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