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Tryon Palace

This story sounds like a variation on the old saying, “To cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face.” But what it is is: the nearly 50-year-old oaks lining a gateway to historic Tryon Palace are coming down in the name of historical accuracy.

Before proceeding, let’s split another hair. To be painfully accurate, Tryon Palace (though it claims to be) is not, strictly speaking, an “historic” building. It is a reconstruction of an historic building. Not much more than the foundation of the original structure was left when the decision was made to re-build it as a tourist attraction. Okay, a State Historic Site.

So, Tryon Palace is a restoration, a modern copy, if you will, of Governor William Tryon’s palatial residence. He was one of the last Royal Chief Executives, serving from 1765 to 1771. Yep, that would have been under King George III.

The decision to re-build Tryon Palace was made in 1953, and it was opened to the public six years later. I have toured it; it is splendid. But only the site is historic, not the building. The 23 oak trees that flank the entrance, on the other hand, are genuine. So what, if research has shown that there was no such natural colonnade at the old, original, Tryon Palace? Curators say the trees are sickly anyway, but I bet Governor Willie would have liked them.

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