35-foot sycamore makes like a tree and leaves First Presbyterian Church | NevadaAppeal.com

35-foot sycamore makes like a tree and leaves First Presbyterian Church

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

Calvin Willey, co-owner of Willey & Sons Tree Farm in Reno, watches as a 35-foot sycamore tree is moved from the property of First Presbyterian Church on Monday afternoon.

One of the biggest obstacles to the renovation of the historic First Presbyterian Church was removed Monday afternoon.

Or more accurately, moved about 100 yards to the northeast.

Crews from Willey & Sons Tree Farm in Reno dug up, moved and replanted a 35-foot sycamore tree from the church’s property at Musser and Nevada streets to their Family Life Center one block east.

In May, Carson City’s Historic Resources Commission approved the church’s plans to demolish the 1940s-era section, about 1,200 square feet, of the church on 110 N. Nevada St. to make room for an 8,400-square-foot expansion. The plan will preserve the parts of the building built in 1864 and in the 1890s.

Originally, church officials sought to tear down the historic church because it was old and considered unsafe to occupy. Preservation advocates hoped to preserve the church because of its connection to Mark Twain and his family.

The Rev. Bruce Kochsmeier said the tree was moved for two reasons. One, the area where the tree stood is slated to become part of the foundation for the church’s expansion.

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“You can’t remove a tree in a historic district without planting five younger trees to replace it. We had a place for it and didn’t want to just cut it down,” Kochsmeier said.

The tree was dedicated to Beryl Glanzmann, a current church elder and longtime Carson City resident, by his mother.

Glanzmann covered the cost to relocate the tree and had it rededicated to his mother, who died last month.

It took about an hour for the crew to move the tree, first digging its new home on South Nevada Street, then severing the roots, and lifting the tree out of the ground.

The tree was taken north on Division to Musser, then east on Musser to Nevada.

Earl Willey, co-owner of the farm, said this tree is at the size limit to successfully transplant. He said of the 300-400 trees he transplants annually, there is about a 95 percent survival rate.

“The biggest thing now is constant maintenance. It’s going to need a lot of water because you won’t have all those feeder roots to get it water. You will almost have to force feed it to make sure it gets enough,” Willey said.

The tree will also have an adjustment period and the foliage will be lighter and more sparse for the next several years, but it should recover completely.

While the exact cost of the transplant wasn’t available, they begin at $300 and increase from there based on size and difficulty of move.

Relocating the tree is one of several projects that needed to be completed before the church can break ground for its expansion, now scheduled to begin in mid-January, weather permitting.

The historic church was also switched from oil to gas heat, because the new foundation will be placed where the oil storage tank currently sits.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.