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Our Beautiful Spruce Trees and what they signify

The Timeless Tradition of Wedding Tree Planting in 1880s Victorian Manchester, New Hampshire

Two grand spruces and the inn

Our Majestic Spruce trees

If you’ve ever visited or walked by the Ash Street Inn in Manchester, you may have noticed the two magnificent spruce trees standing proudly on our property. These trees, planted in 1885, are more than just beautiful additions to our landscape—they are living pieces of history, linked to the Victorian wedding traditions that were prevalent in the area during that time. Recently, a guest shared the fascinating story behind these trees with us, sparking our interest in this charming tradition.

The Historical Roots

Victorian WomanThe Victorian era, spanning from 1837 to 1901, was a time of romanticism, characterized by an emphasis on beauty, nature, and sentimentality. Weddings during this period were elaborate affairs, infused with symbolism and rituals that celebrated the union of two souls. One such ritual was the planting of trees, an act that not only honored the couple’s new beginning but also promised growth, strength, and longevity.

The Significance of Tree Planting

Planting a tree as part of a wedding ceremony is a powerful gesture. It signifies the couple’s intention to put down roots and grow together, much like the tree they plant. This tradition has deep ecological and emotional implications:

  1. Symbolism of Growth and Stability: Just as a tree grows and becomes a sturdy presence in the landscape, a marriage is expected to flourish and become a strong, enduring bond. The tree serves as a living testament to the couple’s commitment and love.
  2. Connection to Nature: The Victorians had a profound appreciation for nature, often incorporating elements of the natural world into their daily lives and celebrations. By planting a tree, couples not only connect with nature but also contribute to the environment, leaving a legacy for future generations.
  3. Family Heritage: Over time, the tree becomes a part of the family’s heritage. It witnesses the family’s milestones and grows alongside them, creating a living history that can be passed down through generations.

Local Flavor: 1880s Manchester, NH

Picture of canal street old Manchester

The old Mills of Manchester

In the 1880s, Manchester, was a bustling industrial town, known for its thriving textile mills and vibrant community. The city’s rapid growth and prosperity were reflected in its grand Victorian homes and public spaces, making it an ideal backdrop for elegant weddings steeped in tradition.

One prominent figure of this era was Abraham Olzendam, a respected mill owner who played a significant role in Manchester’s industrial success.



Old Grand Victorian House

Abraham Olzendam’s home circa 1880 courtesy of Manchester HIstoric Society

Abraham Olzendam: Abraham Olzendam was a notable mill owner in Manchester during the 1880s. His textile mill was among the leading establishments in the city, contributing to the economic growth and prosperity of the region. Olzendam was known for his innovative approaches to manufacturing and his commitment to improving the working conditions for his employees. His contributions to the community extended  beyond his business, as he was also involved in various civic and charitable activities. Sadly the house is no longer standing and the space now contains private homes and is the current location of the Maple Leaf Healthcare Center on Pearl Street.

Ash Street inn B&W photo with old car

Gustave’s home

Gustave Olzendam’s Home: In 1885, two large spruces were planted at the home of Abraham Olzendam’s son, Gustave Olzendam. This house, which is now known as the Ash Street Inn, stands as a testament to the family’s legacy in Manchester. The spruces have since grown to become majestic trees, embodying the strength and resilience that characterized both the Olzendam family and their contributions to the community. These trees not only enhance the beauty of our property but also serve as living monuments to the history and traditions of the Victorian era.

Historic Venues: Many weddings in 1880s Manchester took place in the beautifully designed homes of mill owners like Olzendam or in public parks adorned with Victorian gardens. Venues like Stark Park, with its picturesque landscapes and historic significance, were popular choices for outdoor ceremonies and tree planting rituals.

Man and woman surrounded by maples

NH in the fall, beautiful

Choosing the Right Tree: In keeping with the local environment, couples often chose trees native to New England. Sugar maples, with their stunning autumn colors, and resilient spruces, symbolizing hope and endurance, were popular choices. These trees not only thrived in the local climate but also held special significance for the community.

Community Involvement: Weddings in Manchester were often community affairs, with neighbors and friends coming together to celebrate. The tree planting ceremony was a communal event, with guests participating by adding soil or water to the newly planted tree, symbolizing their support and blessings for the couple’s future.

A Living Legacy

The Victorian wedding tree planting tradition is more than just a ceremonial act; it’s a living legacy that grows and flourishes alongside the couple’s relationship. It’s a beautiful way to honor the past while looking forward to the future, blending the timeless charm of the Victorian era with the enduring beauty of New England’s natural landscape.

For those planning a New England wedding, especially in a historic town like Manchester, embracing this tradition can add a unique and meaningful dimension to the celebration, creating memories and a legacy that will last for generations to come. As you embark on this journey, consider planting a tree as a symbol of your love and commitment—a gesture that, like your marriage, will grow stronger and more beautiful with each passing year.

Spoiler Alert from The Ash Street Inn

NH JP Seal

Yes, its official

We are thrilled to announce that our very own Chef and co-Innkeeper, Rob, is now a Justice of the Peace. In light of this, we will soon be offering elopement packages here at the Ash Street Inn. Imagine beginning your new life together under the watchful branches of our historic spruces, surrounded by the charm and elegance of Victorian Manchester. Stay tuned for more details!

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