The Auburn University Board of Trustees today gave the latest go-ahead to the redevelopment of Toomer’s Corner, at least the university’s side of it.
The first phase of the project according to the now approved proposal? “Remove and replace the existing pavers and soil in the area, retain the 1917 brick gates, create a circular seat wall, and pant two new oak trees.”
The name of the project? Not “The Toomer’s Corner Redevelopment,” but “The Auburn Oaks at Toomer’s Corner Redevelopment.”
The language suggests that the name of the trees is as alive as they technically still are, which would seem to make “Auburn Oaks” a sort of arboreal Dread Pirate Roberts—not just a mantle to assume, but a moniker as well.
It’s the latest example of how the perception of the historical role of the trees at Toomer’s Corner has grown increasingly complex over the past three years. Referring to the trees—the old ones, the ones on your shirt—as the (all caps) “Toomer’s Oaks” has actually only been en vogue since they were poisoned. The designation “Auburn Oaks” is less than a year old, and was intended to avoid any trademark entanglements with the owners of Toomer’s Drugs once the oaks became AU products demanding a brand.
However, the value of that brand lies in the Auburn Oaks being the Auburn Oaks, two specific, unique, sacred trees, not place holders.
At the same time, asks Dan King, assistant vice president for facilities at Auburn University, what could the new trees be called?
“We can’t control what people will call the corner or the trees in the future, ” King says. “But as to what we refer to them as officially, we’re going to call them the Auburn Oaks. I don’t know what else we would call them.”
The Twomers Oaks (?) are scheduled to be planted in early 2015.
More on the the Toomer’s Oaks: Auburn grad attorney had no qualms defending Updyke / Toomer’s Oaks souvenirs will be branded ‘Auburn Oaks’ / Woodturned item made from Toomer’s Oaks will be on permanent display in Auburn art museum / Toomer’s Corner rollings didn’t start with Punt, Bama, Punt, says History / Did Auburn students celebrate Bear Bryant’s death by rolling Toomer’s Corner?