Rotunda Magnolias to be Felled

UVA is planning to take down the big magnolias on either side of the Rotunda, Ted Strong writes in the Daily Progress, and some people aren’t thrilled about it. The enormous trees are slated for removal in order to allow scaffolding to be put up around the building, so that the leaky roof can be replaced. (The scaffolding, interestingly, will support a tent to cover the roofless Rotunda.) The trees are thought to have been planted about a century ago, but it’s not clear if they’re really the same trees or replacements. Ironically, the trees could be contributing to the building’s troubles; as evergreens, they leave the building in shade year-round, preventing evaporation of rainwater. A student petition opposing the removal of the trees has garnered over 2,000 signatures.

6 Responses to “Rotunda Magnolias to be Felled”


  • Oh man, I love those trees!

    So many institutions don’t understand that trees are not a commodity that can be swapped in and out — they have personalities, people think of them as acquaintances or friends.

  • I like the trees but understand the problems with planting large ones so close to a structure. I can’t understand, however, why trimming wouldn’t be looked at first before the trees would be removed. It would seem that scaffolding and properly trimmed trees could come to a reasonable compromise.

  • If it’s just some of the the limbs, they should be able to trim. If it’s the roots getting under the building, then you either move the building or kill the tree.

  • From what I read of the BoV meeting remarks, it’s not just that the trees are in the way of renovation. They were the ‘wrong tree in the wrong place’. I hadn’t thought of the evergreen nature causing evaporation. But the size of the trees in the courtyards they occupy is out of scale. It will be a shame to loose them. I was disappointed in the architects observation that the courtyards are ‘underused’ – there are so few quiet places outside near central grounds, I always liked taking breaks in them.

  • I think “underused” places are some of the most valuable just for that very reason, Mark.

  • So… do the students circulating and signing this petition have an alternative suggestion? Or do they just think “cutting down trees = bad” ?

    I mean, it’s certainly a shame to lose two beautiful, hundred-year-old trees… but if it’s truly the case that either the trees or the Rotunda has to go, that doesn’t seem to be a terribly difficult tough call to make, even if it’s an unfortunate one.

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