Letters to the Editor: July 5 – 11, 2018
More on Falls Church’s ‘Hangman’s Tree’
I enjoyed Estelle Timar-Wilcox’s piece in the News-Press last week on the “Legend of Civil War Era ‘Hangman’s Tree.”
Allow me to add footnote. The historic plaque you reported correctly was prepared in 1968 shortly after the demise of the “Hangman’s Tree.” But, the plaque was not installed on the site until 1986! There was no appropriated site available at the time, the existing shopping center being most inhospitable for such a significant placement.
In 1984, a Grand Union grocery store in the center closed for business creating a 70 percent vacancy. That is when I, heading a redevelopment partnership purchased the aging structure with plans to make improvements and an addition. We entered into a private/public partnership with the City of Falls Church to complete the project. That agreement called for the city to make certain public improvements including expedite zoning changes in exchange for securing a major restaurant tenant and installation of extensive landscaping. On the latter, we cooperated with the Village Preservation and Improvement Society who had developed a schematic Broad Street landscape plan, to include a space suitable for planting a Red Oak tree commemorating the historic tree.
After the project was completed, The Falls Church Historical Commission approached me about mounting the plaque at the site. I readily agreed, selecting the stone and its placement. The grand opening of the revitalized Broaddale Shopping Center took place on Arbor Day 1985.
The Historical Commission, pleased with the result, honored me with a unique plaque incorporating a piece of the historic Red Oak. It reads, “This portion of a limb from the ‘Hangman’s Tree’ was presented by the Falls Church Historical Commission to Mr. Paul Barkley on September 16, 1986 for his various contributions to the Arbor Day 1985 ceremonies at the Broaddale Village shopping center at Broad Street and Virginia Avenue in Falls Church, Va.”
Paul H. Barkley
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