“...The current incarnation of the Sherman Oak was started from an acorn taken from the original Sherman Oak that graced the main quadrangle on the old East Lake campus in Birmingham...”
The Sherman Oak, a symbol of Samford University for generations, has a new campus home. Actually, “grandson of Sherman Oak” was moved recently from its location on Talbird Circle to the front of Samford Hall.
The current incarnation of the Sherman Oak, sometimes known as Sherman Oak II, was started from an acorn taken from the original Sherman Oak that graced the main quadrangle on the old East Lake campus in Birmingham. Named for Samford’s first president, Samuel Sterling Sherman, the original tree was the scene of many events on the East Lake campus.
It was deemed too large to move when Samford relocated to the current Homewood campus in 1957, much to the sadness of students and alumni. When developers eventually decided to remove the old tree, then-president Thomas E. Corts and others made arrangements to gather acorns and have the tree’s bark made into mementoes. Pieces of the original Sherman Oak still are found in the university’s Special Collection in Harwell G. Davis Library.
A seedling grown from Sherman Oak acorns was planted on Talbird Circle on the Homewood campus as a symbolic reminder of the original Sherman Oak. Other seedlings were distributed to alumni and friends at the 1996 homecoming.
Recently it was determined that the “new” Sherman Oak had outgrown its location. As part of ongoing infrastructure construction, it was moved to the front of Samford Hall, the university’s main administration building. Mark Fuller ’81 coordinated the relocation process.
Prayer offered at the planting of Sherman Oak II, Oct. 30, 1999
By Sigurd Bryan ’46
Our Father in Heaven,
We have gathered here today to celebrate the planning of a tree. We acknowledge that we are not in the Garden of Eden and this tree is not the tree of life nor the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is simply an oak tree, and this is the campus of Samford University. But this oak tree is special to us because it is Sherman Oak No. II and brings with it a lot of tradition from the East Lake campus to this campus. Its parent was loved by students and faculty and became a symbol of Howard College and the many lives blessed by the college in that location. It provided a welcome shade in the hot summer months and became a gathering place with many pleasant memories attached it to.
And now, as this tree is placed on this Lakeshore campus, we pray that you will bless its growth with your rain and your sunshine. Bless the loving care that will continue to be given to it. And, as it grows ever larger, spreading its branches ever wider and sending its roots ever deeper, may Samford University grow along with it, having an ever widening reach and an ever deepening love for all the peoples of this world.
And just as this tree will bless people by its very presence, its beauty and its shade, may this university bless this city, this state, this nation, and this world as it seeks to fulfill its mission to nurture persons for God, for learning, forever.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, we make this petition. Amen.
Respond to this story
Do you have a favorite memory of the Sherman Oak? Share it with us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Memories will be included in future issues of Belltower.
Did you receive one of the Sherman Oak seedlings in 1996? Send us a photo of your tree by email to email@example.com or regular mail: Belltower, Office of University Relations, Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, AL 35229.