WATERVILLE — The giant blue spruce tree cut down Tuesday in Castonguay Square had a storied history, having been transplanted there in the mid-1970s by public works employees who had dug it up from a lawn on Mayflower Hill Drive.

Earl Smith, former dean of Colby College, remembers his father-in-law, Frank R. Hubbard, an avid gardener, wanted to thin the trees on his front lawn and offered two blue spruce trees to the city.

The city accepted and public works employees went to Hubbard’s home, which then was at 55 Mayflower Hill Drive, dug up the trees by the roots, took them to Castonguay Square and re-planted them, Smith said this week.

“He was a dear person and he had a lovely home that he was so proud of on Mayflower Hill,” recalled Smith, 76. “The blue spruce trees were 10 to 12 feet tall. I would think they were probably 10 years old at that time. That tree that came down yesterday was probably 50 years-plus.”

One of the trees re-planted in Castonguay Square was cut down years ago, Smith said. City employees on Tuesday cut down the remaining tree, as it had needle cast disease and was unsightly, according to city officials.

For years, the 40-foot-tall tree had been adorned with colored lights for the holiday season, with those lights officially turned on the day after Thanksgiving during the annual Parade of Lights and opening of Kringleville, a miniature Santa’s village. The event, which draws thousands of people downtown, is organized to help usher in the holiday season.

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Skehan and Mayor Nick Isgro said Tuesday that another, temporary tree, will be placed in the square for the holiday season this year and a live tree will be planted there, probably in the spring.

Smith, a native of Waterville who lives in Belgrade Lakes with wife Barbara, Hubbard’s daughter, said his father-in-law was a food broker who represented Oxford Pickle Co., of South Paris, and was known locally as “The Pickle Man.” He recalled his father-in-law was always planting something near his brick ranch home on Mayflower Hill Drive.

“He was forever landscaping and re-landscaping,” he said. “I even remember helping him plant trees there.”

Smith said city officials in the 1970s wanted to space the two blue spruce trees in Castonguay Square, so one was re-planted closer to Front Street and the other, closer to Main Street.

“They were perfectly shaped and quite handsome,” he said.

The tree cut down Tuesday was the one closer to Main Street.

Smith recalled that he and his wife were downtown recently and he remarked about how scraggly her father’s tree was looking.

He said that, as much as he is a sentimentalist, he agrees with the city’s decision to remove the tree, which was diseased and ugly.

“It was time for it to go,” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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