Olathe man pushing to preserve a piece of living history in wake - KCTV5

Olathe man pushing to preserve a piece of living history in wake of JOCO Courthouse restoration

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OLATHE, KS (KCTV) -

There’s a little tag that rests on an Osage Orange tree located on W. Poplar Street in Olathe.

According to the owner of the property where it sits, Joe Vader, it indicates that it’s in Kansas’ records as a “champion tree.”

“Which means it is the oldest, and largest tree of its species,” Vader said.

Through research, Vader said it’s thought the tree is over 150 years old.

“Because of its age it would succeed the date of the founding of this city which was around 1860. That was right before the Civil War,” Vader said.

A significant piece of living history he admires every time he’s near it.

“My favorite part of the tree are these gnarls. I’ve just never seen anything like it on a tree anywhere. It’s the beauty of nature. It just doesn’t get any better,” Vader said.

Though in order to make room for the redevelopment of the Johnson County Courthouse, over a dozen homes will be torn down.

Each one is of those homes are located in the area by Kansas Avenue,  East Poplar Street, North Cherry Street and East Spruce Street.

The historic Osage Orange tree sits on a lot that will be turned into a parking lot for the courthouse.

Since Vader owns the property where the hedge tree sits, he negotiated the sale of it with the County.

“I insisted on a paragraph that would provide the saving of the tree,” Vader said.

According to the Chairman of the board of Johnson County Commission, Ed Eilert the county is looking into the possibility of preserving it.

“If the decision were made to keep the tree, then there would have to be allowances within the lot itself to allow that to happen,” Eilert said.

For Vader, he’d like to see a green space created around the tree once the parking lot is made so people can stop and admire its beauty.

“I don’t think an artist can replicate what exists in this massive piece of nature,” Vader said.

There are still a few things the county needs to evaluate, including the health of the tree before making a decision to keep it. 

Eilert said if they can save it, they will. 

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