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Orange tree sculptures bring dead wood to life

Krista and Jesse Beauchesne and the tree sculpture on South 
Main St in Orange. Recorder/Paul Franz

Krista and Jesse Beauchesne and the tree sculpture on South Main St in Orange. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

ORANGE — What used to be a dying tree and town liability is now an artistic landmark paying homage to indigenous animals of the Quabbin region.

A project that began with the foresight of property owners Jesse and Krista Beauchesne, who purchased 145 South Main St. to turn into a bed and breakfast along with the property beside it. Krista Beauchesne says what started out as a joke about carving the dead tree, turned into a passion for her and her husband. Together with the help of Orange Tree Warden Susan Pepper-Aisenberg and local carvers, the project has taken hold, with a second tree being carved. The couple has plans to work with the community in sculpting many more diseased and dying trees to create a walking tour in the town. The project will not only be an attraction for visitors, but will save the town money in that it won’t have the cost of total removal for these trees on town property.

“A car had hit the tree many, many years back and the way the roots went down to the street without disturbing the pavement was unique,” Krista Beauchesne says about her desire to keep the beauty of the original tree.

Beauschene says the couple was able to get the tree warden behind the idea by presenting the positives for the town. Pepper-Aisenberg directed the Beauschenes to present it at a public meeting to make sure the community would not oppose. The idea was welcomed at public hearing and the carving began. Local carvers Mike Lagassey Sr., Mike Lagassey Jr., Mark Bosworth and Sue O’Sullivan, also known as the North Quabbin Carvers, began work on the tree in early April and finished in May.

“A self-guided tree sculpture tour would be a great addition to the area,” says Beauchesne.

“A core group of people in the North Quabbin area are working very hard to bring in visitors and we thought the tree sculpture project would be a good complement to their efforts,” she says.

Although the North Quabbin Tree Project will help tourism, Beauchesne says it was also created to help the town get rid of problem trees and unsightly stumps that otherwise may not be tended to. In the case of the first tree, the town’s cost was only the removal of the limbs close to the power lines. Upon completion of that tree, the project sought permission from the town to hold a block party where the tree was celebrated and money was raised for the next.

“We chose the tree across from Butterfield School as our second tree because it is within walking distance from the first,” said Beauchesne.

Aspirin Tree Services did a complimentary trimming for the project and then Jesse Beauchesne and carver Mike Lagasse Sr. volunteered their time to remove and dispose of the brush and limbs. While the original tree is much larger and encompasses myriad animals, the second is a sculpture of a single majestic eagle.

The Beauschesnes encourage Orange residents to contact them if they have a tree in mind to be considered for the project. You can either commission the sculptors to do a carving on your own and then contact the project to include it on the walking tour, or you can contact them to see if the tree qualifies to be a part of the volunteer efforts. Email the North Quabbin Tree Project at NQTreeSculptureProject@yahoo.com and follow them on Facebook. The project is also accepting donations payable to NQ Tree Sculpture Project at TD Bank in Orange or by mail at 145 South Main St., Orange, MA 01364.

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