It may be the oldest old in Austin after the more well-known Treaty Oak. The Rather Family sited their 1910 house on a hill overlooking the University and the Capitol. They loved the trees and shrubs which covered the whole area and sought to maintain the natural beauty of the place (Catherine M. O’Connor, A Cultural Landscape Report for The Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, 2010). The grove of live oaks was the distinctive feature the landscape at the beginning of the twentieth century and it remains iconic for Seminary of the Southwest. As one student with an extensive background in arboriculture quipped to me in around 2000, “there are worse reasons to choose a seminary than the trees.” For those who have offices in Rather House, its massive graceful branches are a constant presence. For a year or so every day around five o clock an unidentified person would sit under the tree and play a drum haunting the campus with its steady rhythm. There were diverse opinions about how much the music was enjoyed, but our guest made his offering there without interference. One night each May to mark the graduation of the seniors and their children, seminary families pitch pup tents around its base and spend the night together there. I climbed it once, but I won’t tell that story here. Ask me! Come and sit in its shade – it’s the tree just outside of Rather House between the lower parking lot and the steps up to the house.
Cynthia Briggs Kittredge

On the campus of Seminary of the Southwest.

Address: 501 East 32nd Street, Austin, TX 78705

ssw.edu

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Cynthia Briggs Kittredge

Dean and President
Seminary of the Southwest