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Athens, Georgia

The Tree That Owns Itself

A white oak with property rights 

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The famous "Tree that Owns Itself" is a white oak located in Athens, GA. The original tree was granted a plot of land 8 ft. in radius by its owner. The official deed reads:

FOR AND IN CONSIDERATION OF THE GREAT LOVE I BEAR THIS TREE AND THE GREAT DESIRE I HAVE FOR ITS PROTECTION FOR ALL TIME, I CONVEY ENTIRE POSSESSION OF ITSELF AND ALL LAND WITHIN EIGHT FEET OF THE TREE ON ALL SIDES WILLIAM H. JACKSON

While, legally, the tree is just a tree (and can not own property), the city of Athens maintains the tree as part of their maintenance of the local streets. Additionally, the municipal government acknowledges the Tree's rights, regardless of the law. 

The original tree was felled by a windstorm in 1942, after it had grown too old and feeble to survive. In an effort to preserve Jackson's wishes, residents of Athens planted a seedling of the original tree in the same spot. The current tree is thriving at the corner of Dearing and Finley Streets, in its original plot of land. For more information, contact the Athens Junior Ladies Garden Club: http://juniorladiesgc.org.

Know Before You Go

From US I85: Take exit 149 for GA-15/US-441 toward Homer/Commerce then Turn left at GA-15/US-441 S. Continue to follow US-441 S. This will turn into Commerce Rd then Martin Luther King Pkwy. From here Turn right at Elizabeth St, right at Cleveland Ave, then Turn left at Pulaski St. Turn right at W Broad St/GA-10/US-78 then Turn left at S Finley St.From Atlanta, GA: Get onto GA-401 N/GA-403 N/I-75 N/I-85 N and Continue to follow GA-403 N/I-85 N. Take a slight right at GA-316 E (signs for GA-316/Athens/Lawrenceville). Continue straight on GA-316/University Pkwy. This becomes Epps Bridge Rd/Epps Bridge Pkwy/US-78. Continue to follow Epps Bridge Pkwy, then take a slight right at Atlanta Hwy/GA-10/US-78. Continue to follow GA-10/US-78, which turns into Broad Street. Turn right at S Finley St.

  • The New Georgia Encyclopedia.
  • Athens Historical Society.
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