Candler Oak / Conservation Easements

The Savannah Tree Foundation holds a conservation easement on the Candler Oak, which is maintained through annual sponsorship donations from St. Joseph’s Candler Hospital.

The Candler Oak is a live oak tree, Quercus virginiania, and is thought to be one of the oldest living landmarks in our area, with a rich history that parallels the establishment of our city. This live oak stands just south of the corner of Drayton and E. Gaston Streets and is thought to be about 300 years old. In 2001, the Candler Oak was designated a Georgia Landmark and Historic Tree by the Georgia Urban Forest Council. In 2004 it was added to the National Register of Historic Trees.

The land surrounding the oak was home to hospitals from 1819 to 1980, beginning with the Savannah Poor House and Hospital. The grounds surrounding the tree have housed orchards, cattle, and prisoners of war.

Photo by Fran Dwight

During the Civil War, the hospital was used by the Confederacy. Known as Camp Davidson, Confederate troops built stockades under the oak tree to house Union officers held as prisoners of war. In 1865, General Sherman captured the hospital.

In 1930, the hospital operated under the service of the Methodist Hospital Board as the Warren A. Candler Hospital, which was located here until 1980. Huntingdon II, Ltd. purchased the building where health care organizations continued to operate until 2000.

After years of stress caused my automobiles, construction, and other signs of progress, the Candler Oak was in serious decline with a life expectancy of less than 20 years. In 1982, concerned citizens formed the Savannah Tree Foundation to protect and preserve Savannah’s urban forest. As their first preservation project, they fought to preserve this historic tree. The group made history by securing the first conservation easement on a single tree in the nation. The Candler Oak was protected from loss to development by the 6,804 square foot easement established in 1984.

Huntingdon II, Ltd. donated the Candler Oak’s easement to the Savannah Tree Foundation so that the tree could receive proper care in order to arrest its declining health. In 1985, asphalt from the parking lot was removed from the root area to revive the tree, and a comprehensive schedule of maintenance has been followed. Under the watchful eye of the Savannah Tree Foundation and the ongoing patronage of St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital, the tree has rebounded and will continue to grace the city well into the 21st century.

In 2012 the Candler Oak property was purchased by the Savannah Law School. Extensive renovations were made to convert the old hosptial building into the newest law school in Georgia. Four parking spaces in the adjacent lot were reserved for the tree’s lowest branches. Members of the student bar assocation have adopted the Candler Oak as a service project and the tree serves as the school’s logo.

2013 Dimensions

Diameter 65 inches
Circumference 17 feet
Height 54 feet
Average crown spread 110.25 feet

A conservation easement is an infrastructure & land use planning tool which helps determine the future of a piece of physical property or natural resource. Careful planning using legal tools to establish a conservation easement can help determine the shape, scope and future of a piece of land – or a single tree— into perpetuity. The Savannah Tree Foundation can help you plan a conservation easement for property that will protect your trees into perpetuity – just contact us for more information!