Tappan Oak and Marker (Class of 1858 Memorial)

Tree before 1858; boulder ca. 1883; plaque 1904; Bronze, Stone; Artifact, Memorial
Central Campus; West side of Hatcher Graduate Library

In the spring of 1858, as a tribute to then university president Henry Philip Tappan, the Class of 1858 laid siege to a young oak tree near the center of campus, which they called the Tappan Oak. Then each graduate brought a maple tree from the woods and planted them in concentric circles around the Tappan Oak (48 trees in all). At their 25th anniversary reunion the Class of 1858 (some of the so-called “Tappan Boys”) decided to place a stone under the oak, and this was accomplished sometime after that (around 1883). They wanted to place a plaque on the boulder as well, but this was not done until 1904. The inscription on the plaque reads: “In honor of Dr. Henry P. Tappan, then President of the University of Michigan, the class of 1858 named this tree the Tappan Oak, placed this boulder at its foot, and planted 48 trees in circles around the oak, each member of the class planting a tree.” Many of the encircling trees were removed when the old library was built in 1883, but the grand old Tappan Oak continued to flourish for many years. In November 2021, the Tappan Oak was removed for safety reasons after it was found to have a completely decayed trunk.