Eugene E. Russell Copper Beech Tree
According to a 1981 New York Times article, the tree was planted in the spring of 1900,
in what is now known as the Theodore Malmud Parklet on Quarropas Street, by Dr.
George Gilbert Platt, a White Plains resident and a trustee of the White Plains Public
Library. Platt had taken a cutting from a copper beech owned by Samuel Lee Parsons
of Flushing. Parson’s tree had grown from a cutting he had taken from a tree owned by
Baron Deshon of Belgium in 1848 during one of his trips to Europe. Acccording to a
1980 Reporter Dispatch article, Platt planted the tree in anticipation of a new library to be
built at the corner of Quarropas and Grand streets.
In 1968 when Urban Renewal and plans for a courthouse and parking garage at that
corner threatened to destroy the tree, Theodora L. “Teddy” Russell, one of the founders
and a vice president of the White Plains Beautification Foundation, worked tirelessly to
see the tree preserved. Because of her efforts, plans for the county parking garage were
redesigned at considerable cost, "but it was worth it," stated Urban Renewal Director
Kenneth Allebach, allowing the tree to remain.
In 1981, Mrs. Russell asked that the tree be designated a living memorial to her
husband, the late Eugene E. Russell – a former assistant county attorney whose window
overlooked the tree and who had first alerted the foundation to the tree's impending fate
– and set up a trust to provide for the perpetual care of the tree. Mrs. Russell died in
November 1991 at the age of 83.
A parklet was created around the tree and named after the Malmud family who were
In 2005, Alpine, later known as The Care of Trees, “adopted” the Eugene E. Russell
Memorial copper beech tree, donating their services to treat the tree for a fungal
disease, reintroduce natural microorganisms missing in the soil, and prune the tree when
But for all the efforts of well-meaning citizens, the magnificent copper beech whose
dark purple leaves for over a century provided shade and a welcome “oasis in a mass of
concrete,” as Mrs. Russell is quoted to have said [The Reporter Dispatch, Aug. 8, 1968],
sadly will be no more.
However, a new Rivers Purple Beech tree (Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii’) has since been
planted on the site by Rosedale Nurseries, using funds from the Russell trust. Rosedale
Nurseries also planted a backdrop border of Hatfield Yews.