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My fellow Newton Tree Conservancy director Penny Caponigro has recently found, on the city website, a charming account of a like-minded organization, the Newton Centre Tree Club, formed in 1852. Records end in 1855, but it appears it may have turned into, or been absorbed by, the Newton Centre Improvement Association.

I can particularly identify with their initial notice inviting citizens “who are fond of cooling shade in sultry days” to come to an organizational meeting. They must have been early citizens of Newton, since they appear to have named the streets they lived on after themselves:

A committee of three, Rice, Hyde and Dr. William Henry Thayer, was appointed to take the matter in charge. (Marshall Rice, surveyor, teacher, Town Clerk, lived on Centre Street between Marshall and Rice streets, Luther Paul lived on Paul Street near Crystal Lake, Hyde, the future Mayor, owned a nursery on Hyde Street.)

Trees were a lot less expensive, at least in nominal dollars:

“Every member shall pay annually the sum of two dollars into the Treasury, or plant in some road or Public Place in Newton Centre, five healthy forest trees of a suitable size…If the trees die within a year from the planting, he shall replace them on the same conditions.”

I don’t know what 160 years of inflation-adjustment would bring it to. But the one-year warranty is the same as the city requires of contractors today.

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