Historic tree preserved at Chambersburg Hospital

Historic tree

 A majestic old tree residing at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital’s property has survived centuries of historic events including the Civil War. Despite recent construction and potential expansion efforts, WellSpan officials have made it a priority to maintain the tree’s health for years to come.

No one appreciates the significance of those efforts more than Chris Snavely, owner of Snavely’s Garden Corner in Chambersburg. Snavely’s life’s work has been a resource for the landscape of Franklin County for nearly five decades. 

“Trees are so important to us in every way,” Snavely said. “Some of these grand old survivors get in the way of progress sometimes, but it’s incumbent on us to speak up for some of the trees who otherwise have no voice in their preservation or wellbeing.” 

The white oak tree, which stands at an estimated 90-feet tall with a girth of four feet, is assumed to be between 200 and 300 years old. Snavely believes the tree could have provided shade during the Civil War for Confederate troops encamped with General Robert E. Lee in an area known as Messersmith’s Woods. A historical marker for Lee’s headquarters is on U.S. 30, less than a half mile from the tree.   

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Snavely credits the late Jack Good, former vice president of Bartlett Tree Experts, with his motivation to help designate the tree. Both men served on the board of directors for Chambersburg Hospital.

“Jack was a mentor to me. He really championed that tree and he did a whole lot more than Chris Snavely ever will as it pertains to the survival of trees,” Snavely recalled.

While living about a block away from hospital property, Snavely decided to take the tree’s wellbeing into consideration last winter. He had noticed some demolition nearby And knew they old tree might be endangered. 

Snavely joined Brad Evans of Bartlett Tree Experts and Tim Murray, director of facilities and construction for WellSpanChambersburg Hospital, to determine steps that could be taken to preserve the roots prior to some nearby excavation took place. 

John Massamilla, chief operating officer at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital, said “I honestly think it’s because people like Jack Good and Chris Snavely have taught us to appreciate the value of trees. Those men have dedicated their careers and resources in preserving the beautiful surroundings we are privileged to in this area.”

Following some of the work that was done, Snavely said that Bartlett Tree Experts was able to give the equivalent of a sonogram to ensure the health of the white oak tree. 

“WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital has saved another life,” Snavely said.