Nearly four years ago, a 250-year old Southern red oak tree fell on Calvin Street in Hillsborough during Hurricane Florence.
Many Hillsborough residents wanted to see an art piece come out of this problem, Mollie Thomas, executive director of the Hillsborough Arts Council, said.
And following community input, the wood from the tree has been repurposed into a permanent art installation: the River Park Arch. The project opened to the public on March 15.
“Because Hillsborough is known for honoring history and celebrating the arts so well, that was kind of the natural path that was taken,” Thomas said.
The project was developed by the Hillsborough Arts Council in partnership with the Orange County Arts Commission and local government representatives.
Katie Murray, director of the Orange County Arts Commission, said the Calvin Street tree was part of a group of protected trees in Hillsborough known as “treasure trees," which are nominated because of their age.
The tree, which stood in a prominent spot, changed the town's skyline when it fell.
“We knew we couldn't just, you know, send the wood off to a mill,” Murray said. "We needed to do something with it."
After an extensive jurying process, Raleigh-based installation artist Jonathan Brilliant was selected among 32 applicants to move forward with his proposal to repurpose the wood in the shape of an arch.