Lou Whitmire

Mansfield News Journal

Lumber from iconic ‘Shawshank Redemption’ tree was burned at sawmill, lawsuit claims

“Wood from oak featured in film was to be used for ‘commemorative items”

LUCAS, Ohio ― Some of the lumber that was left from the iconic oak tree featured in “The Shawshank Redemption” is now at the center of a civil suit.

The wood had been left at a sawmill for milling to be used for commemorative items, but allegedly was burned, according to the tree’s co-owner.

This might be the last photograph of the "Shawshank" tree still standing, taken on Thursday by Shawshank fan Marge Shoemaker of Texas.

The famous oak tree, which was struck by lightning in 2011 and fell over in 2016, had been located on private property in Lucas, Ohio, almost 70 miles north of Columbus..

It was seen in “Shawshank” when Red (played by Morgan Freeman) walked along a hay field and removed stones from a rock wall, and where Andy (played by Tim Robbins) kept a gift for Red.

Property owner planned to sell commemorative products with wood

Dan Dees, co-owner of the property where the tree once stood, established a business that would sell milled portions of the tree which would then be converted into commemorative consumer products, according to the lawsuit, filed by his Cleveland attorney Robert J. Vecchio.

The lawsuit states that the plaintiff wants to be compensated for any and all amounts that will adequately compensate him for his damages and losses, for the costs of the lawsuit, and other associated costs.

Vecchio said that Dees had a number of commemorative items planned for the “Shawshank” wood, including hammers, paper weights and plaques.

“Since the tree went down there has been a huge demand for commemorative pieces from the wood,” Vecchio said.

An initial scheduling conference is set for Thursday on a lawsuit Dees filed in November in Richland County Common Pleas Court.

According to the lawsuit, Dees entered into an agreement in April 2017 with William A. Spohn, who owns and operates a sawmill in Perrysville. Dees was to deliver portions of the Shawshank tree to Spohn to store on his premises and mill into wood planks upon demand. Dees thereafter delivered portions of the tree to the sawmill operator, who stored the wood on his premises and would mill the tree as directed, according to the lawsuit.

As of October 2019, the sawmill operator had in his possession about 500 board feet from the butt log portion of the tree, the lawsuit alleges.

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