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Tree Topples onto Lullwater Mansion

By Christina White Posted: 05/08/2009
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Severe thunderstorms ripped a 130-year-old oak tree from the ground in Lullwater Park on Sunday, toppling it directly on the garage of Lullwater Mansion, the home of University President James W. Wagner and his wife, Debbie.

“The tree would have been here when the Candlers built this house,” James Wagner said.

No one was injured due to the incident, but the collapse damaged parts of the roof and broke two of the garage windows, Wagner said.

“There was an overhang over the garage doors, and that was torn completely off the house,” Wagner said. “The beautiful, leaded glass antique windows in the home were unscathed.”

The house is currently under repair, but the tree was removed from the site on Monday, Wagner said.

The tree, weighing more than 10,000 pounds, was one of three that did not
survive the storm. The other two fell at the front of the house and across the driveway, neither causing damage.

“Facilities management and security were here almost immediately, and by the next day, a tree service brought a crane over to lift the tree away from the house,” Wagner said.

The Wagners were out to dinner with another couple during the storm, but they came home to a departing Emory Police Department car vacating the property.

“They had sent someone over to check the house out after the weather,” Wagner said. “They were pulling out as we were pulling in.”

Wagner’s antique car collection, housed in his garage, remained safe from the weather.

However, the car he had borrowed from the University did not escape harm.

“It didn’t hurt my antiques — my toys, as they say,” Wagner said. "Unfortunately, though, my Prius had been in the shop, so I was borrowing
one of the University vehicles, and it was crushed.”

As a part of graduation weekend, the Wagners open their Lullwater house to graduates, alumni and their families and guests.

The minor damage to the President’s house from the tree that fell this weekend will not affect this annual gathering.

“We have the open house on Sunday for the graduates and their parents, and I’m afraid they will see a little bit of evidence of the damage but not too much,” Wagner said. “All things considered we were very fortunate.”

— Contact Christina White.

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