Inman Park’s Coast Redwood

Yes, Inman Park is home to a coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, specimens of which appear below in their natural habitat (take note of the hiker on the trail, in order to get a proper sense of scale):

By contrast, back in 2010, our redwood was measured at a measly 71 feet tall and puny 75 inches in circumference. But in its own way, it’s just as distinctive as its better known cousins out in California and Oregon.

That’s because ours was planted by the redoubtable Joel Hurt (1850–1926), Inman Park’s founder and one of the most illustrious Atlantans ever.

Hurt planted it in front of what is now called the Hurt Cottage, at the south end of Elizabeth Street. The bones of that house date back to Reconstruction, according to architectural historian Tommy Jones. Hurt himself lived in the house from 1887 to 1904, when he moved to the so-called Hurt Mansion, which he’d had built at the corner of Elizabeth Street and Euclid Avenue.

You can glimpse the Hurt Cottage (upper left) in this early photograph of Springvale Park:

In the photo below, taken in 1980, Hurt’s redwood is shown just before severe weather conditions damaged it severely.

The present tree is what’s called “second-growth” redwood. Redwoods have this amazing ability, rare in conifers: they can regenerate! When the trunk of a redwood is damaged, as was Joel Hurt’s tree not quite four decades ago, dormant buds on the root collar are activated. New stems sprout up around the circular trunk. The circle of trees that results is sometimes called a “fairy ring.”

Hey, more than 70 feet in fewer than 40 years — not bad! Plus, when you live in a neighborhood that offers you the chance to peer over a fence covered in blooming jasmine at a lovely redwood tree in front of a historic, charming cottage … folks, it don’t get much better than that.

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