Tropical Storm Irma has killed a memento of Macon’s music history.
On the back of the Allman Brothers Band’s first album is a photograph of the band at the Bond tomb at Rose Hill Cemetery.
A massive magnolia tree that shaded the stairs down to the grave site’s Ocmulgee River overlook was blown over Monday by Tropical Storm Irma.
Kathy Douglas, an Allman Brothers fan who volunteers at the Big House museum, noticed the damage as she walked the cemetery Tuesday.
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“It’s an icon,” Douglas, 50, said Wednesday. “It’s something that’s always been there since we were young.”
Douglas alerted people on Facebook, hoping the tree could be saved.
“Remember this Always Macon Georgia coming up or sitting on the steps at Bond Tomb,” she posted.
“Damn. Loved that tree,” one of her friends responded.
The band members used to enjoy visiting Rose Hill Cemetery, where Gregg Allman was recently buried near his brother Duane and band member Berry Oakley.
To a novice’s eye, it looks like the towering tree’s exposed root ball could be set back in place.
Douglas was hoping enough people with ropes or winches could right Irma’s wrong.
Not so, said Susan Granbery, an urban and community forestry coordinator for the Georgia Forestry Commission.
“It has tension and it could snap back violently, and you wouldn’t want to be on the other side,” Granbery said. “People should not attempt to repair or upright a tree that is down.”
She suggests searching the web for a certified arborist to inspect damaged trees and remove them.
Although Douglas was hoping something could be done, she was already lamenting the loss of the tree.
“It will be a Sight not seen again,” she wrote on Facebook.
“It’s unfortunate that this happens during a storm,” Granbery said. “This being a historic tree, maybe there’s something that could be done with the wood.”
The thick trunk knocked over monuments in the Ralston family plot next to the Johnston obelisk that was broken during the 1954 tornado.
Three years ago, the granite marker was reset by Clark Memorials.
One of the Ralston monuments dates back to 1850, but it’s not clear how old the magnolia is.
“There’s no way to speculate,” Granbery said. “But once it’s cut, you should be able to count the rings and establish how old it was.”
Granbery suggested planting another tree in its place.
For Douglas, on the heels of Gregg Allman’s death, that spot will never be the same.
“I’m sad. very sad.”