60-year old Fraser fir makes journey from Roan Mountain to Brooklyn

Zach Vance • Dec 23, 2018 at 3:53 PM

If only Durward Julian could see his Fraser fir Christmas tree now. 

Sometime during the 1950s, Julian planted a Fraser fir in the front of his home on Tenn. Highway 143 in Roan Mountain, and six decades later, that same tree — now 65-feet tall — was selected to be on display at the MetroTech Center in Brooklyn, New York. 

“My dad would be so pleased. He would just be rejoiced if he could see those pictures,” Julian’s son Larry said.

Larry remembers his dad, who died in February 2017 at 100 years old, repurposing Christmas trees by planting them in his front yard.  

“He’d bring (the tree) in and use it for the Christmas tree, and then after Christmas, he took it out and planted it,” Larry Julian said. 

Once the new tree began to sprout and grow, Larry said his dad would decorate it each year with lights until it grew so tall, he couldn’t reach the top.

The Julians actually had two Fraser fir trees planted in their yard, but one had to be cut down prematurely due to beetle infestation, and Larry was afraid the 65-foot tree was also beginning to deteriorate.

That’s when the Sugar Mountain, North Carolina, Nursery came calling. 

“They’ve been after that tree for years, but they’ve never been able to catch me here,” said Larry Julian, who recently moved back to Roan Mountain from Richmond, Virginia.

This year, the tree nursery finally caught Larry and make him an offer. Larry said he initially agreed, but started having second thoughts and decided to consult the rest of his family. 

“They were all agreeable. So I finally decided, ‘Why don’t we just let it go?’ Because they talked about putting it somewhere impressive,” Julian said. 

By impressive, Larry wasn’t expecting the MetroTech Center, a business and education center in downtown Brooklyn, but that’s exactly where it currently stands. 

In early November, Sugar Mountain Nursery workers arrived, and for most of the day, they toiled to get the tree down, wrapped and placed on the back of a flatbed semi truck.

Larry said the base diameter of the tree is about 36 feet, and the nursery staff had to wrap the tree multiple times to get it down to 12 feet so it would fit on the truck. 

“The biggest part of the day was wrapping the thing because they would have to lift it, wrap it and lay it back down. Then lift again and wrap it. They started at the top and worked their way to the bottom,” Larry said. 

Once loaded, the tree was taken to Newland, North Carolina, where Pittman Trucking then delivered it to Brooklyn a few days later. 

Now billed as “Brooklyn’s tallest Christmas Tree,” the Julians’ tree was officially lit up on Dec. 4 during an event that featured the Brooklyn Ballet and Brooklyn Music School. Since then, the tree has received numerous compliments on Facebook and Twitter.  

In the coming weeks, Larry said he hopes to grind down the stump of the old Fraser fir, and with his grandchildren present, start the Christmas tradition of planting a Fraser fir all over again. 



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