The day after Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012, Brian Slocum ‘97 drove through campus to view the damage firsthand. He arrived to find that dozens of giant oak trees that had stood as stalwart guardians of the university since the days before Lehigh was Lehigh had been blown to the ground.

“At that point, I think I had already seen the nostalgic value in the trees and knew that something could, and should, be done with them,” says Slocum, managing director of the Wilbur Powerhouse and Design Labs.

By the end of the day, Slocum had assembled a team that rescued six 12-foot pieces of trees.
He stored the nearly 300-year-old pieces knowing that someday there would be a use for them.

In 2015, the perfect opportunity presented itself – the construction of conference tables for Williams Hall, which is set to re-open in October after a comprehensive renovation. Slocum, with wood shop Manager Michael Moore and undergraduate students Deanna Shepherd and John Obiedzinski, spent the summer building the tables, giving the historic wood a second life.

“I don't want the part these trees have played at Lehigh to end with a gust of wind,” he says. “These conference tables, and some of the other things we hope to build from the lumber, represent the opportunity for these trees to continue to be woven into Lehigh's history in the next century.”

Read the full story at the Lehigh University News Center.

-Lauren Weaver is a Media Relations Associate with Lehigh University Media Relations.

Mechanical engineering student Deanna Shepherd helped chip off bark from the rough wood, sand the table tops and cut the pieces for the steel base.