Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – “Topping out” (also called “topping off”) is a longstanding construction tradition and most often occurs when the last beam is placed on the top of a new building. Based on Scandinavian tradition, a tree is also positioned on the top of the building as part of the ceremony. Sometimes the tree is live and is then planted on the construction site.
When the Clinton Library “Topping Out” ceremony occurred on May 23, 2003, a pine tree — the state tree of Arkansas — was chosen. The pine tree was live and was to be planted later in the Clinton Presidential Park.
After it was removed from the roof, it was placed near the construction trailer where it was to be cared for until the proper time for planting. Unfortunately — and most likely due to lack of watering — the tree died. When it was discovered the tree had died, another pine tree was located and is now planted on the east side of the Clinton Park near the Arkansas River. It is the only pine tree in the park, and many people assume it was the original “Topping Out” tree. It is not.
The final beam is installed to the Clinton Library.
The “new” topping out pine tree now sits on the east side of the Clinton Center.