Honoring legacy at St. Timothy’s school
On a late summer day in Maryland, the staff at St. Timothy’s School gathered around an old red oak tree that had stood in that corner of campus for generations. Blooming forth from the massive trunk of this 150-year old oak tree was the honey fungus Armillaria. A bright orange fungus that was incredibly beautiful to look at, but highly toxic to the tree. When they consulted with local forestry experts, they determined that the tree needed to come down. The process of cutting down the tree was a delicate, highly orchestrated task that took place over the course of several days. With foresight and an appreciation for skilled craftsmanship, they asked Thos. Moser to utilize boards from the felled 80-foot tree to create community worktables for the new Five Arts Community Building.
Architecture + Design
The S/L/A/M Collaborative (SLAM) national architecture firm was used to design the 27,800 sq foot renovation and addition to the Five Arts Center.
The former, two-story Hanna More Arts Center, now named the Gerry Sisters Five Arts and Student Center, is home to program literature, theatre, dance, visual arts, and music. The new center also includes a vibrant makers space on the ground floor. Inspired by the materials of one of the school’s original buildings, the Cart House, a French-style mansion, the center uses the classical materials of copper, butler stone, and cedar to transform the new building into a contemporary design. In addition to the new center, other significant upgrades were made to the facility. The theatre had significant upgrades to the 330-seat space, featuring new seats, lighting, and A/V. The center also serves as a full-service health and wellness center, additional classroom space for the English department, and an expanded 1,300 sq foot art gallery.
Tables that Honor the Heirloom oak
Landing in our workshop were huge red oak slabs- some nearly four feet across and fifteen feet long. We were immediately inspired by the rich character and story behind this mature wood. For generations, young women and school faculty had passed by this tree daily. Seeking shade beneath its branches on warm fall days, students would share stories of their lives and hold deeper conversations on their academics. Now that the tree had extended the far reaches of its growth cycle, the best way to honor its rich history was to allow it to live on as an integral part of the St. Timothy’s campus.
View the Process
Taking the lead, Andy Moser set out designing the two tables in his workshop. Over the course of five months, he studied the innate character of the oak, allowing the tree to dictate the design. Embracing what many would consider flaws in the wood, Andy celebrated the intricacies of the tree. A sizeable crack threatened to tear the board apart but was masterfully secured with an inlay butterfly joint, keeping that piece of the tree’s story intact for centuries to come.
Today, the two large tables create an inviting place for students to gather for a casual conversation or to collaborate on projects. Sunlight from the floor-to-ceiling windows washes over the large live-edge tables that proudly showcase the silhouette of the old oak tree that once stood on the other side of the wall. The natural lines of the crack running through the center of the table demonstrate perseverance and the oak’s enduring place at St. Timothy’s School.