The best-known tree on the lawn of the Hamilton County Courthouse was felled by a storm overnight.
A very large osage orange tree on the south lawn was toppled.
The tree, which stood near the statue of Confederate General A.P. Stewart, was a favorite of former County Executive Dalton Roberts.
His father, Roy Roberts, would make gavels for County Commission chairmen from limbs that fell from the tree.
Many couples have been married under the shade of the tree.
The tree may date to 1879 when the first county courthouse at the site opened.
Gene Hyde, city forester, said it is the largest osage orange trees he has seen. "It's definitely a granddaddy tree," he said.
Noting that the wood from the tree is a distinctive yellow/orange, he is recommending that the wood from the tree be provided to woodworkers. He said it would make "a very distinctive piece of furniture."
There is a photo of the courthouse in 1900 showing the tree, and Mr. Hyde said it is possibly much older.
He said the osage orange is not native to the Chattanooga area, but it has become naturalized here and is found infrequently.
The Osage Indians made bows from its wood, he said.
Mr. Hyde said he examined the osage orange recently after the Occupy Chattanooga encampment broke up "and it seemed in pretty good shape. There was no reason to think it was in any kind of danger."