Helen Keller's Favorite Climbing Tree Cut Down

The oak at her childhood home was damaged by tornadoes, bugs
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2015 3:07 PM CDT

(Newser) – As a child, Helen Keller used to enjoy climbing a large oak tree in the front yard of her home in Tuscumbia, Alabama, the Times Daily reports. Yesterday, workers with chainsaws removed the tree, which had stood for more than 200 years. “Isn’t that the saddest thing?” Sue Pilkilton tells the Times Daily. Pilkilton is the executive director of Ivy Green, the museum that was once Keller's childhood home. Keller—born in 1880 and left blind and deaf after a childhood illness—once got stuck in that same oak tree during a storm, according to NBC News. It was left to her teacher Anne Sullivan to rescue her.

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The Times Daily reports the tree had been hollowed out by bugs and decay and was severely damaged during tornadoes in October 2014 and July 2015. "We’re very fortunate that the limbs did not do any damage to anything," Pilkilton says. "For the safety of visitors and of our neighbors around us"—Ivy Green is surrounded by homes—"we just had to take it down." According to the AP, Sullivan taught Keller to communicate at Ivy Green, forming the basis for the film The Miracle Worker. (Read more Helen Keller stories.)

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