A European Elm tree that grew in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park was recorded as of the largest trees in New York, with a diameter measuring a whopping 89 inches. The behemoth, originally planted in 1870, was felled last year after city forestry officials determined it had died. Rather than chip it into mulch or bury it in a landfill, the tree is getting a new life thanks to RE-CO BKLYN, a Brooklyn based sawmill and furniture business that uses reclaimed trees to make beautiful fixtures.
The job, as you can see in the video above, was a big one. Milling the enormous tree into lumber for custom furniture is not just an eco-friendly way to dispose of waste. Rather, it is a unique way to honor the old trees that have endured generations of progress in the bustling urban landscape. Dan Richfield and Roger Benton, co-owners of RE-CO BKLYN, take their work very seriously, and when the NYC Parks Department approached them to reincarnate the massive European Elm, they were more than ready for the task. All it took was a crane, two log trucks, a rented 60,000-lb excavator, and a 60-inch chainsaw—and that’s just how they got the tree from the park to the company’s stock yard.
Brooklyn Director of Forestry Andrew Ullman made the decision to take down the tree, after it had lost several large limbs due to storms and high winds in recent years. Ullman told Richfield that the tree had become too dangerous to leave, so it had to be removed. From the fallen elm, RE-CO BKLYN will build a custom conference table for the NYC Parks Prospect Park offices in Litchfield Villa, a befitting tribute for the 150-year-old tree that had been intentionally planted in the park as a tiny sapling. The process of milling and drying the lumber from the historic tree will take some time, so the custom conference table is expected to be completed in mid-2017.
The tree’s enormous girth will result in some leftover lumber as well, according to Richfield. “We are going to have a tremendous amount of lumber from the tree which will get used for dozens of projects over a 1-2 year span,” he told Inhabitat.
Since RE-CO BKLYN started turning old trees into new fixtures, the team has produced over 400 pieces of sustainable furniture, including coffee and dining tables, bar tops, desks, and headboards. Each is just as gorgeous and majestic as the tree from which it came, featuring sustainable lumber that has been air dried for up to two years before being finished in the company’s custom-built kiln, made from a recycled shipping container.
Images via RE-CO BKLYN