30-Foot Tall Lightner Museum Live Oak Moved To New St. Augustine Home

Jan 19, 2021

A live oak tree that stood for two decades behind St. Augustine’s Lightner Museum now graces a small hill in Robert Hayling Freedom Park on Riberia Point.

A live oak tree was moved from the Lightner museum to Robert Hayling Freedom Park.
Credit City of St. Augustine

General contractor Len Weeks is relandscaping the Lightner’s back lawn. He’s putting in new fences, gates, and lighting. As part of that project he removed a 30-foot tall live oak from the middle of the outdoor courtyard.

“The story is that it was a sapling that came from either Thomas Jefferson or George Washington's estate up north and was transplanted here as a young tree at the back of the Lightner Museum,” Weeks said.

Last week’s relocation of the storied tree was handled by Associated Tree Masters using a big hydraulic spade to uproot it.

Owner Kevin Fisher said the hardest part of the job was trucking the live oak with its 25-foot canopy the mile or so from the Lightner to the park.

“So you have, like, all these branches laying over the hood and front and sides of the truck. King Street — we probably took up three-quarters of the road with the tree. The cars coming towards us pulled way over to the side,” said Fisher.

Freedom Park sits on nine acres of land where the San Sebastian River flows into the Matanzas River.

Contact reporter Cyd Hoskinson at choskinson@wjct.org, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter at @cydwjctnews.