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Tree That Owns Itself, Athens

3.6
#11 of 25 in Things to do in Athens
The Tree That Owns Itself is a white oak tree, widely assumed to have legal ownership of itself and of all land within eight feet (2.4 m) of its base. The tree, also called the Jackson Oak, is located at the corner of South Finley and Dearing Streets in Athens, Georgia, United States. The original tree fell in 1942, but a new tree was grown from one of its acorns, and planted in the same location. The current tree is sometimes referred to as the Son of The Tree That Owns Itself. Both trees have appeared in numerous national publications, and the site is a local landmark.LegendThe earliest-known telling of the tree's story comes from a front-page article entitled "Deeded to Itself" in the Athens Weekly Banner of August 12, 1890. The article explains that the tree had been located on the property of Colonel William Henry Jackson. William Jackson was the son of one James Jackson (a soldier in the American Revolution as well as a Congressman, U.S. Senator, and Governor of Georgia), and the father of another James Jackson (a Congressman and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia). He was the brother of Jabez Young Jackson, also a Congressman. (William Jackson was reportedly a professor at the University of Georgia, and is sometimes given the title of Doctor. The nature of his military service and the source of the title "Colonel" are unknown.) Jackson supposedly cherished childhood memories of the tree, and, desiring to protect it, deeded to it the ownership of itself and its surrounding land. By various accounts, this transaction took place between 1820 and 1832. According to the newspaper article, the deed read:
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
90 reviews
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4.7
TripAdvisor
  • August 9, 2017
    I imagine that this is probably the only tree in the world that has been deed to itself. The Tree That Owns Itself, located at the corner of South Finley and Dearing Streets in Athens, is a white oak ...  more »
  • August 8, 2017
    We visited with grandkids. Saw a cat living under the tree. Actually, the tree is the offspring of the original tree that owed itself. We would not have known if that information had not been provided...  more »
  • May 24, 2017
    Don't miss seeing this tree! Yes, it's just a tree, in the middle of a cobblestone street, in a historic neighborhood, with it's own plaque. Need I say more?? If nothing else, you can have a selfie th...  more »
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  • March 29, 2017
    Tree was very nice! Offered drinks for a very reasonable price and the food was a bit earthy but that's just fine! Very nice tree and had great manners. Great with the kids too heck he could be their dad for me. Screw it, I'm leaving my kids there since the tree is better than me.
  • June 12, 2017
    Totally worth the visit. Avoid coming directly from W Broad if you like better paved roads as access from the neighborhood side is much smoother.
  • December 5, 2016
    This tree could be much better. It offers little to no shade, there is no seating, and acorns were all over the ground. For a tree that owns itself, it could do a better job with the maintaining of its property. I've seen better trees in my lifetime, and I was genuinely let down. I wont be "barking" up this tree ever again, and I don't think you should be either. Was not worth the 7 hour drive.
  • April 11, 2017
    it's historic and odd. great roadside attraction if you're coming through town.
  • January 16, 2017
    This is the last surviving remnant of Athens' formerly glorious punk rock scene. This tree is a testement to the punk spirit, and still stands today in defiance of societal norms. It seems to say, "You don't own me!" And nobody does. Rock on, rebel tree. Rock on.

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