Those walking along Peakland Place last fall missed the full vibrancy of maroon, orange and red usually displayed by dozens of sugar maples that typically line both sides of the scenic street.

The evening of April 15, 2018, an EF1 tornado uprooted many of those 90-year-old trees, flinging them across the road and into houses and cars. In the days after the storm, neighbors and volunteers from around the city banded together to clean up the historic avenue, but some scars still remained.

Thursday morning, the city and the Lynchburg Garden Club joined forces to bring new life to the empty mulch beds that kept more than two dozen sugar maples and dogwoods safe for nearly a century along the 3800 block of Peakland Place near VES Road.

The Lynchburg Garden Club has funded the replacement of 11 sugar maples and nine dogwoods destroyed by the storm as well as an additional five sugar maples and three dogwoods in vacant areas at a cost of $3,360, according to club member June Britt.

Lynchburg’s Urban Forester Klaus Schreiber said the sugar maples should reach mature height in about 35 years. The dogwoods will take about 15 years to reach mature height.

She said the new plantings are meaningful for the club because its first project was planting the original sugar maples along Peakland Place in 1926.

“Lynchburg is a Tree City,” Britt said. “It’s not only for the beautification of Lynchburg — trees [also] are so important to our environment, so it’s also a conservation project.”

The Peakland Place plantings also will honor the garden club’s upcoming centennial in 2023, according to Britt. She said the cost to purchase the trees came from the club’s sustaining members who have a special appreciation for the Peakland Place project.

Lynchburg’s Urban Forester Klaus Schreiber said while the tornado destroyed well over 1,000 trees in the city, the median and green space along Peakland Place was the only area maintained by the city that lost trees. Damages around the rest of the city all came from private property.

Schreiber said because Lynchburg typically only maintains trees within the public right-of-way between the street and the sidewalk, there are no other city-maintained areas that require tree replacement because of tornado damage.

Cleve and Barbara McGehee are lifelong Lynchburgers who stroll regularly down Peakland Place with their 9-year-old goldendoodle Humphrey.

Barbara McGehee said she remembers feeling devastated after seeing the destruction to the street from last April’s storm and said she is “so excited” for the new plantings.

“It’s going to be so gorgeous,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful street.”

From the archives: City streets

They take us where we want to go and bring us home again. City streets are a part of the way we interact with the world. They change over time, sometimes dramatically and more often in small ways. We went back into our archives and came up with these street scenes, mostly from the 1970s, to show some of those changes to now-familiar cityscapes. 


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