It was nearly two years ago that Brookfield lost a 120-foot-tall historic landmark. A storm on June 21, 2011, which produced wind gusts of up to 75 mph, leveled trees throughout the village.
One of those casualties was a magnificent white oak in Kiwanis Park — the Constitution Oak, so named because it was standing at the time the U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787. The tree received the designation in 1987, the bicentennial of the Constitution’s signing.
But now, courtesy of the LaGrange-Le Portage Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, there’s a new white oak standing where the Constitution Oak once towered. The tree was actually planted last fall, and a new plaque noting that it’s a gift from the DAR is already in place.
On May 6 at 6 p.m. the group is inviting all Brookfield residents to a dedication ceremony for the new oak in Kiwanis Park, near the playground area. In addition to representatives from the DAR being present, the Sons of the American Revolution with perform a flag ceremony at the dedication event.
“We’re just thrilled we can do something,” said Terry Lubenkov, first vice regent of the LaGrange-Le Portage DAR. “It’s part of our heritage.”
The DAR became interested in assisting in the replacement of the tree when one of its members, Brookfield resident Wendy Herder, mentioned that the Constitution Oak had blown down in a storm.
In 2010, the chapter donated a tree that now stands in Denning Park in LaGrange, said Lubenkov. The DAR has long been interested in conservation and reforestation efforts. According to Lubenkov, the LaGrange chapter, founded in 1927, was involved in planting hundreds of trees during the 1930s.
“We decided the [Constitution Oak] would be a good tree to replace,” said Lubenkov, “so the Daughters of the American Revolution decided to donate a tree and a plaque.”
The organization contacted Brookfield Village Forester Scott DeRoss, who was happy to help find a suitable replacement — a white oak like the one that preceded it.
“It’s a native white oak,” said DeRoss. “We wanted what we call a ‘true’ white oak.”
The tree was grown from seed, said Lubenkov, at Possibility Place nursery in Monee.
“It’s a special tree,” said Lubenkov.
The Constitution Oak, which it replaced, was also a special tree. It was estimated to be between 300 and 327 years old when it was dedicated as a local landmark in 1987. Chris Stach, writing in the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark in 2005, noted that the tree not only pre-dated the Constitution but the births of all of the country’s Founding Fathers.