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Rain, not fire, spells ‘survivor’ tree’s demise at Nolan’s

What a devastating fire failed to do, the rain did.

The so-called “survivor” tree, a tree in the weeping mulberry family, had stood for years on South Main Street next to the former Nolan’s restaurant. How long? No one knows for sure. City Arborist Stephanie Crim said last year the tree has been around here longer than she has.

The tree had emerged unscathed from the July 2017 fire that destroyed the restaurant, and made it through the resulting winter and much of the construction season this year.

But, all living things — no matter what they come to symbolize — reach their natural end. And the same was true of this weeping mulberry tree.

Mayor Ellen Polimeni noted attempts to save the tree during her remarks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new and improved restaurant, which opens to the public Monday.

“They hoped to keep it,” Polimeni said Friday.

Executive Chef Alex Bacon had asked firefighters and wrecking crews to do what they could to save the tree, which he and his son used to decorate for the Christmas holiday. “It was a staple of what Nolan’s is,” Bacon said a year ago.

Throughout the planning process for the new structure, plans were discussed to build around the tree, said owner Nick Violas.

The efforts worked, for a time.

“I know many people have been concerned about the tree. We apologize,” Violas said. “One rainstorm took it down on us.”

Bacon said he had the tree out back, watering it to try and save it. As many wept when the former restaurant burned down, it’s OK to cry for the weeping mulberry tree that survived the tragic event, only to be missing for the restaurant’s reopening.

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