May 20, 2024 /
Christina Hester

Preserving History: Casey Trees and the Legacy of Presidential Connections

In a fascinating blend of history and horticulture, Casey Trees recently embarked on a mission to extend a piece of Washington DC’s iconic cherry blossom legacy to Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in New York. This endeavor not only celebrates the beauty of nature but also intertwines the legacies of two influential American presidents: Theodore Roosevelt and George Washington.

The story begins beyond the nation’s capital, reaching as far as the picturesque landscapes of Clarke County, Virginia. Here lies the Casey Tree Farm, nestled along the serene bends of the Shenandoah River.

While there’s no definitive evidence that George Washington surveyed the exact land that now comprises the Casey Tree Farm, historical records reveal his extensive surveying activities in Clarke County. The presence of his brother-in-law, Colonel Fielding Lewis, as an owner of the property during Washington’s time suggests a strong likelihood of his connection to the area. It’s plausible that Washington not only surveyed the land but also frequented it, adding another layer of historical significance to the farm’s soil.

Springsbury Farm, as it was once known, has a rich tapestry of ownership, including descendants of Robert “King” Carter and notable figures like John Holker, a man of diverse talents and entrepreneurial spirit. Holker’s tenure on the property saw ventures ranging from mills to distilleries, with Springsbury becoming a hub of prosperity and refinement, attracting even the attention of Joseph Bonaparte, brother to Napoleon.

Fast forward to the 21st century, where the story of Casey Trees intersects with the presidential legacy once again, this time with Theodore Roosevelt. Sagamore Hill National Historic Site stands as a testament to Roosevelt’s enduring influence, preserving the memory of his life and contributions to American history. Roosevelt’s connection to Washington DC is notable, particularly during his presidency when the cherry blossoms became synonymous with the nation’s capital.

The recent collaboration between Casey Trees and Sagamore Hill National Historic Site brings this historical thread full circle. Six Kwanzan cherry trees, carefully selected and organized by Casey Trees, were planted at Sagamore Hill, replacing historic trees dating back to 1957, removed in 2023 due to deterioration and old age. These new additions, grown on the land that George Washington frequented and in close proximity to the cherry trees that grace Washington DC, serve as living reminders of President Roosevelt’s time in the capital.

Kevan Keegan, Chief of Preservation and Maintenance at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, eloquently articulates the significance of this endeavor. He emphasizes the importance of preserving both cultural and natural resources, echoing the sentiments of stewardship embraced by both Roosevelt and Washington. “As stewards of land and history, our goal is to make connections of President Roosevelt’s legacy for public enjoyment and understanding. The cherry trees acquired from Casey Trees will be a reminder of his time in Washington DC,” Keegan shared. “Our historic cherry trees are entwined with the local community and generations of visitors have visited the park during the spring to see them bloom, much like when people visit the National Mall in Washington DC to see their cherry blossoms. Future generations will enjoy these cherry trees and they are a testament to the importance of preserving our nation’s cultural and natural resources.”


The planting of these cherry trees not only enhances the landscape but also fosters a deeper understanding of our shared heritage. Through the collaborative efforts of sites like Sagamore Hill, we ensure that the legacies of past leaders endure, enriching our present and inspiring future generations. As the cherry blossoms bloom anew in New York, they carry with them the stories of presidents’ past, weaving a narrative of continuity and reverence for our nation’s history.