Walla Walla Public Schools held a ribbon cutting ceremony Sept. 25 officially marking the opening of Jeannette C. Hayner Park on the campus of Walla Walla High School featuring the world’s largest London Plane tree. Jeannette C. Hayner (1919-2010) was a former influential school board member and Washington State Representative and Senator.
Graduate of Distinction and 1969 alum Michael Murr, in coordination with the Joseph L. Stubblefield Trust, partnered with Walla Walla Public Schools to develop the new park on the west-side of the Walla Walla High School campus. Although commonly referred to as a “Sycamore Tree,” the London Plane is actually a hybrid offspring of the American Sycamore and Oriental Plane. This century-old majestic tree, when considering its height of approximately 150 feet tall, its crown, in excess of 100 feet, and circumference nearly 30 feet around, outshines the tallest London Plane on record in Europe, planted in 1749 to mark the centenary of the execution of King Charles I. Although the 270 year old European tree is believed to be a few feet taller than the local tree, the Walla Walla tree’s girth and crown dwarfs the Bryanston School Estate tree located in Dorset, England.
Mr. Murr approached the district last spring about developing and funding the project aimed at preserving the massive, historic tree. Fellow 1969 Wa-Hi graduate, and 28 year Walla Walla Community College instructor, Larry Harding served as the project's manager.
“We are so grateful for Mr. Murr and the Stubblefield Trust for their efforts to help preserve such an important piece of our valley’s treasures,” noted Superintendent Wade Smith. “Their financial contribution and advocacy will help ensure the majestic tree is around for generations to marvel at and enjoy.”
The park includes tree protection measures, walking paths, decorative fencing, benches and additional landscaping to highlight the impressive London Plane.
“We are so grateful that the School District shares our view that this magnificent tree should be preserved. The giant Sycamore will now be protected for centuries. Importantly, Jeannette C. Hayner Park, with its meditative quality, just might inspire or change the life of a young student or passerby now and then,” noted Murr.
Photo L-R: Mr. Mike Kay, Mr. Larry Harding, Mrs. Eva Murr, Mr. Michael Murr, Mr. Jim Hayner and Dr. Wade Smith.