Ladies' Hall Elm

For several decades, the hollow elm near Ladies' Hall provided a wonderful photographic setting for the St. Olaf community. In the college's early years, the tree's cavity was burned to prevent further decay and was tended as an integral part of the campus landscape.

Professor Ole G. Felland, an avid amateur photographer, often posed his family and friends in the cavity, where he also staged a self-portrait. Located on the brow of the hill near present day-Holland Hall, the tree offered a temporary respite from the world as well as a secretive place to muse upon a verse or two (see below).

Although little is written about the tree, it apparently was removed by dynamite a few months after Holland Hall was dedicated on June 5, 1925.

Georgina Dieson Hegland noted in her book, As It Was in The Beginning (1950), that “Professor Felland was on hand with his camera to take a last picture [August 18, 1925, see images]. For him it was the occasion of losing an old friend, and he feelingly spoke out: ‘Who would take down that tree should be put in jail.’ The thoughtful John Berntsen [head of facility and grounds] lovingly put aside several big chunks suitable for making Norse kubbe stoler.” (A kubbe stoler is a chair carved from a large section of log, common in Norway in the 19th century.)

Frida Bue-Homnes '02 wrote the following poem, which was published in the college annual, The Viking (1913-1914-1915):

The Ladies' Hall Elm

Stately and tall it stands,
A veteran guard on the hill-crest.
Bearing the marks of time
Yet showing a spirit unbroken:
Keeping a silent watch
O'er the paths converging beneath it.
Shielding from trespassing eyes
The time honored hall of the maidens.

Ah, the tales it might tell
Were its murmurings comprehended
Stories of wilderness times
When Indians roamed on the hillside;
Stories of sugar camp days
When the frolicsome youths of the village
Feasted on sweets of the maple
Cooled in a lingering snow drift.

Decades have passed since then,
And bevies of fair young maidens,
Merry or grave have passed
'Neath the eye of this sentinel watchful
And to each as she passed
The Elm tree has murmured its greetings,
Whispering gently of rest
In the shade of its wide spreading branches.

Long be thy life, O Elm,
And may future Manitou Maidens,
Though in more sumptuous halls
Their merry young lives be sheltered,
Love and revere thee as we
Who mid tears and its laughters
Dwelt in the dear old Hall
Which thou hast so faithfully guarded.

Images

Room For One More!

Room For One More!

Hermo Felland, Thonny Felland and three sons of President Thorbjorn N. Mohn, 1890. | Source: St. Olaf College Archives | Creator: Ole G. Felland (image F0335) View File Details Page

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Professor Ole G. Felland, an avid amateur photographer, often posed his family and friends in the cavity, where he also staged a self-portrait. Located on the brow of the hill near present day-Holland Hall, the tree offered a temporary respite from the world. | Source: St. Olaf College Archives | Creator: Ole G. Felland (image F0485) View File Details Page

The Original Selfie!

The Original Selfie!

Professor Ole G. Felland hiding from students, 1910. | Source: St. Olaf College Archives | Creator: Ole G. Felland (image F1087) View File Details Page

Premium Dormitory Space!

Premium Dormitory Space!

Marie Maurseth and Julia Sanderson, ca. 1894. | Source: St. Olaf College Archives View File Details Page

Ladies' Hall Inmates, ca. 1895

Ladies' Hall Inmates, ca. 1895

Ladies' Hall was the original Northfield school house, built in in the early 1860s. It served as the original building for the fledgling St. Olaf's School from 1875 to 1878. The following year it was removed to Manitou Heights. For several decades the hollow elm near Ladies' Hall provided a wonderful photographic setting for the St. Olaf community. | Source: St. Olaf College Archives View File Details Page

All Good Things Must Come To An End!

All Good Things Must Come To An End!

The hollow elm was removed by dynamite a few months after Holland Hall was dedicated on June 5, 1925. Georgina Dieson Hegland noted in her book, As It Was in The Beginning (1950), that “Professor Felland was on hand with his camera to take a last picture [August 18, 1925, see images]. For him it was the occasion of losing an old friend, and he feelingly spoke out: ‘Who would take down that tree should be put in jail.’" | Source: St. Olaf College Archives | Creator: Ole G. Felland (image F1711) View File Details Page

Current View: Old Ladies' Hall Elm

Current View: Old Ladies' Hall Elm

This hill is now a popular spot to study or relax, but it once was home to a beloved elm tree. | Creator: Melanie Jones, April 13, 2015 View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Jeff M. Sauve, “Ladies' Hall Elm,” NorthfieldHistorical, accessed May 22, 2017, http://northfieldhistorical.org/items/show/32.
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