Before it was tree city

Christina Anthony

With lush green leaves atop sturdy trunks, Kent has been a “tree city” since the late 1800s. But very few know that in the beginning Kent was barren of such greenery. While celebrating Earth week, take a look back.

“The first export of Kent was ash from burning all the trees,” said Sandy Halem of the Kent Historical Society. “It was used to make soaps.”

When settlers first moved into the area, it was important to clear the land, Halem explained. People needed to cut down trees to make room for houses and the wood was needed to build them.

More trees were cut down for the space they created rather than use of the wood. People wanted un-shaded gardens and clear pathways from house to house.

Leftover wood was sent to the ashery. The ashery would burn the hard wood remnants and export the ashes for soap making.

Kent received its “tree city” title when John Davey replanted hundreds of trees within the city limits. He went on to found the Davey Tree Company that still exists today.

Now it’s hard to imagine Kent without trees; the shade they provide on those scorching summer days, the playful way of dodging between them while sledding in the winter.

City signs proudly display the tree logo throughout the city, reminding residents of the first major export as well as how earth friendly the city has become.