The Pacific Northwest is defined by many things, but our trees may just top the list. We love them all: big or small, evergreen and deciduous. These trees are more than just environmental partners. They represent hope, beauty and an investment in the future. Seaside, Oregon’s Bank of the Pacific branch and the nearby Seaside Museum & Historical Society are home to a tree family with a unique and inspiring story.

Seaside Museum & Historical Society sign in front of the Monterey cypress
The Seaside Museum & Historical Society is home to a unique Monterey Cypress, the offspring of a mother tree that was nearly killed in 1990. Photo courtesy: Bank of the Pacific

A Monterey Cypress Journeys North and Finds Her Seaside Home

As their name suggests, the Monterey Cypress hails from rugged oceanside regions like Monterey, California. Horticulturists say these horizontally branched trees can grow 50 feet tall or more. They start in a typical cone-shape like many evergreens but spread wide with age and the harsh ocean-swept winds.

At the Bank of the Pacific branch, there is a large mother tree that’s estimated to be easily 100 years old. But her now 18-foot circumference was nearly felled by a heavy dose of weed killer in 1990 that caused a rapid, total shedding of seeds. Though they were quickly planted, only one new cypress survived and today is thriving at the nearby Seaside Museum & Historical Society.

Leah Griffith, vice president of the Museum & Historical Society, says that the “baby” is currently well over 20 feet tall as it approaches its 35th birthday. She laughs that now that the baby is settled, “it hasn’t needed special care, though we keep weed killer away!” To date, the baby tree hasn’t cast seeds, and no new trees have erupted from the ground nearby.

Bank of the Pacific building
The mother tree shed all her seeds almost 35 years ago when exposed to an herbicide spill. Only one seedling out of nearly 30 survives today. Photo courtesy: Bank of the Pacific

The Community Works Together, Caring for Generations of Iconic Evergreens

After the mother tree went into toxic shock from too much herbicide, the community rallied to save both her and any future offspring. “Alan Batchelder, local citizen and city councilor from 1989-1996, transplanted 25 to 30 sprouted seedlings,” explains Griffith. “Only one survived. Seaside Public Library’s  story lady, Paula Clark, took it home and cared for it until it was 10 feet tall. It was then entrusted to the Seaside Public Works Department. After being carefully transplanted several more times and now 15 feet tall, it was moved with much trepidation and care to its present site in 2006 where it has flourished on the museum grounds.”

Like the partnerships needed to keep the baby tree alive, Griffith appreciates Bank of the Pacific’s ongoing support. “Members of the Museum and partners like these are vital to the financial support of the Museum, but even more they demonstrate the value of the Museum through their generosity.”

Green sign with photos of Seaside, Oregon, that says "welcome to your Seaside branch"
You can find the mother tree at Bank of the Pacific’s Seaside branch. She’s now easily 100 years old and has an 18-foot circumference. Photo courtesy: Bank of the Pacific

Carey Hitchman, Bank of the Pacific Seaside branch customer service manager, says their team is always happy to help. “As a community bank we believe in forming a deep connection with organizations like the Museum & Historical Society which act as anchors of local community history,” she shares. “A lot of our employees grew up in the area where they work. Because of this, it’s all the more important to be part of helping preserve our local history and culture.”

Honoring Past, Present and Future at the Seaside Museum & Historical Society

The Museum & Historical Society preserves all manner of local history, not just trees. But they do have a soft spot for green and growing things. Griffith explains that the on-site Butterfield Cottage Heritage Garden is filled with plants with origin dates prior to 1910. “You can see old roses, lilacs and more that would have been in your great grandma’s garden,” she adds.

Seaside Museum & Historical Society building
Seaside Museum & Historical Society also boasts the Butterfield Cottage Heritage Garden, reminiscent of the picturesque gardens of the early 1890’s. Photo courtesy: Seaside Museum & Historical Society

The Butterfield Cottage is a beach cottage from 1893 that showcases how visitors from a century ago enjoyed their stays on the beach, she says. It was a family beach house, but also rented out to other families for a week or two at a time, just like today.  It is filled with treasures such as old record players, children’s toys and even a hat shop from its days as a commercial storefront.

Other exhibits include the story of the Lewis & Clark Saltmakers of 1806, a linotype from Seaside’s newspaper, stories of tourist activities from the early 1900s and a miniature diorama depicting Seaside itself in 1899.

The Museum is located just five blocks from the Seaside Convention Center and open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. You can learn more and find upcoming events through their website, Facebook and Instagram pages.

Bank of the Pacific’s Seaside branch is a short 15-minute walk south of the Museum, at 761 Avenue G. When you stop by to visit the mother three, take a moment to learn about their competitive checking and savings accounts, investment options, merchant services for small businesses, commercial lending or real estate and helpful financial calculators.

Writer Richard Mabey once said that “to be without trees would, in the most literal way, mean to be without our roots.” Thankfully, communities and local businesses work hard to foster the best environment for us all.


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