Tree that Owns Itself
"The Tree That Owns Itself" is a real estate joke that outlived its perpetrator by several generations. Athens has more than its share of other nutty claims and landmarks: a double-barreled cannon, hometown of the rock group R.E.M., and the UGA stadium burial vaults of deceased bulldog mascots.
The Tree That Owns Itself was first reported in a local newspaper in 1890, after Professor W.H. Jackson devised the peculiar deeding in his will. The professor enjoyed its shade so much he wanted to guarantee its survival after his death. The tree lived until 1942, when strong winds toppled the 400 year old giant. In 1946, members of a local garden club planted an acorn from the original tree, and have kept watch over it ever since.
The tree is surrounded by a circle of concrete posts linked by chains. The text of the Jackson's land deed is inscribed on a stone slab:
"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"
But it's technically the "Legal Heir of the Tree That Owns Itself."