Moreton Bay Fig tree

July 04, 2001
Reprinted from a Santa Paula Chronicle column August 4th , 1992
Columnist

The plaque under our wondrous Moreton Bay fig tree reads: “Moreton Bay Fig, July 4, 1879, Eden H. Orne. 1962 Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce Tree and Land Purchase.”

It has been almost 40 year since caring citizens organized to save this historic tree. These concerned Santa Paula residents formed a legal trust and named it The Citizens Memorial Park Trust. They were motivated by the possibility that the site, directly across from the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, might be used for commercial development.

By Catherine BarringerThe plaque under our wondrous Moreton Bay fig tree reads: “Moreton Bay Fig, July 4, 1879, Eden H. Orne. 1962 Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce Tree and Land Purchase.”It has been almost 40 year since caring citizens organized to save this historic tree. These concerned Santa Paula residents formed a legal trust and named it The Citizens Memorial Park Trust. They were motivated by the possibility that the site, directly across from the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, might be used for commercial development.It was on September 16, 1961 that a group of more than 20 people met and elected Dr. Gilbert Jackson their chairman, and Edwin Beach, Charles Lockwood and Gus Quick trustees of The Memorial Park Trust Association. The goal was to collect $7,000, which would purchase half of the lot on the southwest corner of 10th and Santa Barbara Streets. The Methodist Church had offered $5,000 for the other half of the lot, as they needed more parking space.Contributions poured in from more than 400 people and organizations. Some were small checks and some larger as this became a genuine community cause. Hard work, organization, dedication and generosity produced a successful campaign, which had collected $7,246.04 by February 19, 1962.One half of “Lot #1, Block #56” was purchased March 5, 1962, and the citizens gave this small plot of land with the wonderful tree to the City of Santa Paula.
The remaining $246.04 was used to pay for printing, postage and a share of the taxes.Information available indicates that in 1875 or 1876, a nurseryman brought a supply of these Ficus Macrophylla (Moreton Bay fig) to Ventura County from San Francisco in five-gallon cans. This tree is native to Australia, so there must be another wonderful story about the journey from Australia to America.One particular tree was planted by the Rev. Orne in 1879 to commemorate the birthdate of the late Cecelia Orne Miller, his beloved daughter. The Rev. Orne was an early-day Santa Paula preacher who lived across the street from our Southern Pacific Railroad Depot.Our fabulous tree is still a healthy tree with an indefinite lifespan - thanks to the many people who invested their time, energy, expertise, treasure and enthusiasm to save her.Santa Paula is blessed with so many trees to treasure!



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