Courthouse Tree – Greensburg, Indiana - Atlas Obscura

Courthouse Tree

Greensburg, Indiana

For over 100 years, this Indiana town has had a tree growing out the top of the local courthouse. 


Every town has something that makes them unique. For the town of Greensburg, Indiana, that thing is a tree. A tree that happens to be growing out the top of the local courthouse.

In the early 1870s, eagle-eyed citizens of Greensburg noticed that a small sprig was growing at the apex of the Decatur County Courthouse tower, 110 feet above ground level. The sprig went largely unnoticed, until four more sprigs later appeared.

Before long, a Large Tooth Aspen tree was slowly but surely growing out the top of the Decatur County Courthouse, and county officials became nervous that the tree might damage the roof. In 1888, a steeplejack was hired to help remove some of the shrubbery from the young tree, but he ended up discovering another small sprout. Soon, the fact was indisputable that Greensburg had two bona-fide trees growing from the courthouse tower. Greensburg’s legacy as the town with the courthouse tree solidified. 

The original trees eventually died, but not before new sprouts could take root. For over 130 years, trees have continued to sprout, grow, and die in a so far endless cycle atop the courthouse. Although more than a century has passed since the first sprig was discovered, the surreal nature of the situation is not lost on Greensburg locals, who still stare up at their courthouse greenery. 

How the first seeds got to the top of Decatur County Courthouse, the world may never know. But if the signature shrubbery suddenly disappears as mysteriously as it appeared all those years ago, Greensburg would no longer be Greensburg.

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June 27, 2017

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