#Irene Takes Out Mansion House Elm

Photo: Homer "Panorama" Fink/BHB

The giant American elm tree that has graced the courtyard of the Mansion House at 145 Hicks Street was knocked down by Hurricane #Irene overnight. The elm, which faced the axe four years ago was beloved by many in Brooklyn Heights.

BHB photo: Heather Quinlan

Mansion House elm in happier times, 2008

The LA Times covers the downing of the elm:

LA Times: Jacqueline Doyle was among those out mourning the tree and gaping at the spectacle. She offered a bit of trivia: The building into which its top fell was featured in the 2008 film “Burn After Reading,” starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney. “They have life,” she said of the trees that shade the neighborhood. The gracious brick building where the tree long stood –- residents have estimated its age at more than 80 years -– is one of the few that has its own courtyard.

The elm was the crowning glory of the entire street, said Sebastian Lamicella, who in 2007 threatened to chain himself to the tree after the debate erupted over whether to remove the tree.

For a time, it seemed the tree’s fate was sealed after Mansion House’s co-op board voted in July 2007 to cut it down amid concerns about its roots and about the possibility of a lawsuit if a branch fell and caused damage or casualties. “So many of the neighbors came out and protested that they really saved the tree,” said Lamicella, noting that it was one of few American elms remaining in the city.

“We really fought for it to stay up, but God had different plans,” he said, shaking his head and walking away.

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  • pistachio pony

    you guys are doing an amazing job reporting on what’s going on in Brooklyn Heights. I am stuck in Houston Texas and have been keeping in touch with BHB to know what to expect when I get back home. I’m glad I learned about the Mansion House Elm now so I can grieve before I return. If I had found out about this by walking by and noticing it was gone I would have been devastated.

    Keep up the wonderful work, it is greatly appreciated!

  • Rick

    Oh, what a shame, I’ve always loved that tree.

  • stuart

    glad that no one was hurt. members of the co-op board must be breathing a sigh of relief although I’m sure there will be property damage claims from the houses across the street.
    This tree should have been taken down last year as the coop directors had wished. I was always afraid that it would come crashing down on that busy sidewalk and street. This is a blessing in disguise.

  • BronxKid

    How sad! That was a beautiful tree gracing our neighborhood. I’ll miss it.

    I hope no one was injured and that the houses across the street did not sustain too much damage.

  • Wiliam Spier

    I always thought that if there was one tree that would fall around the Heights, it was that elm. We have about 70 different trees in the BHH garden, including a 40 plus foot empress tree. If that tree was living on the edge, like the Mansion House elm, it would have come down a long time ago. You don’t wait for a storm to do the job for you.

  • AEB

    Terrible! But nature always has the last word.

  • Steve O’Rourke

    Decades ago, I lived on Hicks St and today, as a Los Angeles resident, I find that this tree fall is literally front page news out here:


  • Cranberry Beret

    That “small blue building” mentioned in the article is Someone’s house! Now trashed. Get some perspective.

  • lucy

    2 of my friends live there!

  • Cranberry Beret

    I wonder if Sebastian Lamicella would be so sanguine about “god’s will” bringing down this known problem tree if the house it fell on was his.

  • -cp

    Cranberry Beret – That blue building has one resident – in the basement – who thankfully was not injured. Otherwise, it’s unoccupied. Property damage will happen, the loss of an 80 year old tree is truly tragic.

  • Cranberry Beret

    The damaged house is 190 years old and one of the most unique in the neighborhood. Remind me to mourn the tree that falls on your house one day.

  • Alanna

    A neighbor just told me that house the tree fell upon has 4-5 apartments and owner of one of homes is residing in California. Sad :( I hope everyone in there is ok. That was a beautiful tree!

  • god

    I know there was a Family in the first floor/basement in one of them.
    I think everyone was ok. I heard only one person had to be rescued.

  • bkresident

    no sympathy for house that it fell on–owners were staunch supporters for trying to prolong a dangerous tree’s life. thankfully no one was hurt.

  • Joe From Grace

    So sad. Best tree ever.

  • ghost

    i believe that the timing couldn’t be better. there should now be firewood aplenty for everyone in the heights with fall and winter coming. i will say that the arch the tree forms over hicks street is quite nice and i wouldn’t complain if it became a permanent fixture as is. maybe the tree huggers at the mansion house can protest to keep it the way it currently is.

  • Andrew Porter

    Because of infestations in NYC of Asian Long-Horned Beetles, I believe most trees that fall here are turned into mulch, not allowed to be used for fire wood. Certainly trees cut into logs are not allowed to leave their neighborhoods, because of the threat.

    Last Spring the Bklyn Botanic Garden lost a 100-year-old Cedar of Lebanon. The tree was also turned into mulch, but I was able to rescue a slice through the trunk, and some sawdust.

  • Robyn

    Thanks to people like Allen Kraus this tree was not cut earlier…