Large majestic trees are an important feature of Oglethorpe’s beautiful campus. I came here as a student in the ’60s, and there was a large American Beech tree that always caught my attention. It was located on the Peachtree Road side of Phoebe Hearst Hall. In past years, its huge trunk and towering limbs made one pause to acknowledge and appreciate its magnificence.
According to the history passed down, the tree was growing at that spot when the cornerstone was laid at Hearst Hall in 1915. However, in recent years it began to show signs of distress, and the efforts and attention of arborists were not successful in saving the tree. Perhaps it simply died of old age.
In thinking about how this tree, which had been a part of this campus since the first permanent building, could remain in some type of commemorative way, it occurred to me to contact Matt Moulthrop, a third-generation wood-turning artist of the internationally known and highly regarded Moulthrop family. Fortunately for all of us, Matt accepted the challenge.
When the dead tree finally had to be removed from the spot it had occupied for more than 100 years, large sections were put aside. Matt came to the campus to choose some pieces that showed potential and arranged to have them transported to his studio in Marietta, Ga. There, Matt worked his magic over the past year to give one of Mother Nature’s creations further life—in the form of a beautiful Moulthrop Bowl.
Oglethorpe University joins many fine museums, such as the Woodruff Arts Center and The Smithsonian, along with discrimination collectors throughout the world, in proudly displaying a Moulthrop Bowl, the roots of which have been intertwined with the life of this university.
Adapted from a April 25th, 2014 presentation to the Oglethorpe Board of Trustees
Robert Bowden ’66 an Oglethorpe Trustee Emeritus, lives in Marietta, Ga. and Sanibel, Fla.