In case you didn’t know, there is a tree that owns itself in Athens, Georgia

The city says it is an unusual property owner because “it pays no taxes.”

Generic image of a tree. (File)
Generic image of a tree. (File) (iStock/Agenturfotograf)

ATHENS, Georgia – There’s one thing in Athens, Georgia that truly separates the city from other destinations in the nation — a tree that owns itself.

Yes, you read that right.

This white oak tree is deemed as “Athens’ most famous landmark” and is located at the corner of Dearing and Finley Streets, at the edge of downtown Athens.

The city’s tourism website says the tree is an unusual property owner as well, as it pays no taxes.

Today’s tree is actually a “junior” tree, according to the tourism website for Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. The original giant oak tree, which was estimated to be about 400-years-old, fell over during a wind storm on Oct. 9, 1942, according to the city.

Since then, members of the Junior Ladies Garden Club of Athens replaced the tree. Garden Club members gathered acorns from the site and started to grow a second-generation white oak tree to replace it, according to the city’s tourism website.

Four years later, on Dec. 4, 1946, the sapling was planted and now in 2021, it’s the same tree that stands tall today, according to the city.

Now, how does the tree own itself?

Well, legend has it that Colonel William H. Jackson’s will “deeded the tree possession of itself and all the land within eight feet of its trunk,” according to the city’s tourism website. Now, does this mean it’s still legally binding? No one really knows.

“We’re not sure, as no one has ever contested the tree’s property rights,” the city’s tourism website states.

This roadside wonder is considered a must-see tourist destination. When visitors check out the infamous tree, there’s also an inscription that 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 (C. 1832)

If you’re looking to check out this unique tree, or want to learn more about it, visit the city’s tourism website here.

More on KSAT:


About the Author: