BARBERTON - A piece of cherished history in a Northeast Ohio city is stolen forever. Someone chopped down historic trees planted by the town’s founder more than 100 years ago.
"This was an agricultural showplace, it was world renown," explained Barberton Historical Society member Bernie Gnap.
The plot of wooded land at the end of Mansion Drive in Barberton once belonged to the city's founder, O.C. Barber.
"The O.C. Barber mansion sat back over my shoulder, so yeah, it was a park-like setting that was around the mansion itself," said Barberton Historical Society member Ron Boldry.
Sometime Tuesday morning, someone cut down ten black walnut trees that Barber had planted in 1910 after he moved to the grounds. According to members of the Barberton Historical Society, they had grown to be 50 feet tall, with trunks more than two feet wide.
"They were approximately 100 years old. The bad part about it is those can never be replaced for this generation, I mean, we could grow other black walnut trees. But to be planted by the founder and have generations for anybody currently living to enjoy them at their full height, that'll never happen," said Boldry.
The Historical Society now owns the land, cleaned it up the landscaping and refurbished the original wishing well.
Society members believe whoever cut them down knew what they were after because they only cut down the valuable black walnut trees.
"The logs are dropped, they're cleaned up, they basically look like they were gonna come back and pick 'em up with a crane and load them onto a truck," Boldry said.
The Historical Society allows residents to use the land as a public park, trying to keep Barber's legacy alive.
"Barber used to open this estate every Sunday afternoon to the general public, people would stream out here from all over, bring their friends, relatives, picnic baskets. He really enjoyed showing off his wealth," said Gnap.
Part of that history, gone forever.
"We'll try to beautify it the best we can, but it takes a long time for trees to get that magnificently large," said Gnap.
The Barberton Historical Society offers free walking tours of the grounds after each Mother’s Day.
Members were also in the process of preserving the foundation of Barber’s original mansion.
According to historical society members, some neighbors heard chain saws at the time the trees were being cut, but did not realize they were being destroyed without the Barberton Historical Society’s permission.
Barberton police have increased patrols around the property.