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Ghost Trees: The champion sugarberry on Curry Field

One of the seven Tennessee State Champion trees noted on
p. 7 of the 1994 The Trees of Vanderbilt was the champion sugarberry (or southern hackberry) tree. It was described on p. 19 of the book. This tree died sometime between about 1997 and 2003, but it is easily recognized in historical aerial photos of campus because of its location near Furman Hall.

Curry Field and the champion sugarberry, c.1946
The Tennessee state champion sugarberry stood near the 50 yard line of Curry Field in about 1946. The red arrow points to the tree.

Image courtesy of Vanderbilt Facilities Information Serices


“Old Dudley Field” was named after Dr. William Dudley, who was both Dean of the Vanderbilt Medical College from 1885-1914 and a national leader in organizing college football. (Dudley tightened up medical school entrance requirements in 1895 by requiring a high school diploma for admission!) When the Vanderbilt stadium was built in 1922, it was called Dudley Field, and the old field next to Furman was renamed Curry Field in honor of Irby Curry, a Vanderbilt football star who was killed in World War I while flying a combat mission.  (References here and here.)

Curry Field and the champion sugarberry, c.1997
The champion sugarberry in about 1997, a few years before its death. Part of Curry Field is now covered by Wilson Hall. The Law School is near where the south goalposts stood.

Image courtesy of Vanderbilt Facilities Information Serices


Although football is rarely played in front of Wilson Hall now, the greenspace there is still called “Curry Field” to recognize its history.

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