Tree carving under construction in Put-in-Bay Park —The tree in DeRivera Park began its life an estimated 36 years before the founder of the Bass Islands arrived and purchased South, Middle, Gibralter, Ballast & Starve Island for the sum of $44,000. In 1854 Jose DeRivera, a Hispanic merchant arrived to the islands and completed the purchase. He then parceled off South Bass Island and began selling parcels, many at deeply discounted prices to various organizations. The school was built on land DeRivera sold for $1.00 and St Paul’s Church was constructed on land DeRivera sold for $ 10.00. DeRivera was one of the most influential men in Put-in-Bay History.
Fast forward to 2017 and a fierce storm rolled across the Lake Erie Islands causing catastrophic damage to a tree estimated to be 200 years old. Instead of breaking out the chainsaws and making firewood, the tree was topped just below its breaking point. One year late, wood sculptor Matt Missey owner of Ohio Tree Carving arrived at Put-in-Bay to begin the project of giving new life to the damaged tree.
Missey spent the first few days at the Put-in-Bay DeRivera Park setting up the required scaffolding and safety gear required when working with the various chainsaws and grinding equipment he used to complete the project. The tree was a White Oak and was estimated to be 200 years old or more. While Missey has been carving trees for over 12 years, the Put-in-Bay Park project is the largest he has ever performed.
The project required over 80 hours of cutting and grinding, often in not so favorable weather conditions. Using over a dozen saws and tools, he deftly shaped the tree into a memorial for Jose DeRivera, Put-in-Bay & the Bass Islands Founder. The $8000 project was completed and dedicated on May 2nd in the park located in downtown Put-in-Bay.
The tree carving memorial is expected to last at least at least 25 years and must be sealed annually to protect the exterior from damage. The tree is sure to be one of the most popular Put-in-Bay Attractions.