Historic White House Tree Felled by Violent Storm

A nearly 70-year-old tree fell victim to a classic Washington summer storm.

June 9, 2009, 6:59 PM

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2009 -- A nearly 70-year-old tree at the White House fell victim to a classic Washington summer storm early this evening, suffering the same fate as the elm tree that is featured on the $20 bill did in 2006.

The tree, a European linden planted in 1940 on the North Lawn, was snapped off near its base, apparently knocked over by wind.

The tree was not planted by a president to mark a special occasion or individual, so it does not have the distinction of being a commemorative tree.

On Wednesday, the National Parks Service will likely grind it up into mulch to be used on the White House grounds.

This is the second White House tree in recent years to snap during a summer storm.

On June 25, 2006, a wicked thunderstorm knocked down a White House elm tree that was more than 100 years old and is visible in the image on the back of the $20 bill.

The National Park Service estimated the elm was planted between 1902 and 1906, when Teddy Roosevelt was living in the White House.

The tree, carefully tended because it was known to be weak, fell within centimeters from the White House wall, though nobody was hurt. The then-White House chief usher said that the grounds staff measured and trimmed the tree to make sure it would never strike the building itself if it fell.

The storm that took down the 100-year-old elm tree also caused significant flooding around the National Mall and in the Department of Justice and National Archives buildings.

Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush planted a replacement tree on the North Lawn on Oct. 2, 2006. Both the president and first lady got down to work and shoveled dirt in the planting ceremony.

ABC News' Ann Compton contributed to this report.

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