First auction set to sell artworks, saplings from historic Hobson Oak

The Hobson Oak meets its demise in November 2016, setting off a preservation project in which artists are turning it into woodcrafts to be auctioned for charity. The first auction of Hobson Oak works is set for Saturday, Aug. 25, to benefit Loaves & Fishes Community Services, the Naperville Outdoor Alliance and the Morton Arboretum. (Bev Horne | Staff Photographer November 2016)

Remember that tree along Hobson Road, the big bur oak across the street from the barn at Greene Valley Forest Preserve, the craggy old growth near Seven Bridges Golf Club between Naperville and Woodridge?

It stood there for 250 years, after all, before it was deemed a safety risk to drivers and bike path users and chopped down in November 2016.

Now some of these woodcrafts and baby trees are set to be sold for the first time Saturday, Aug. 25, during the Loaves & Fishes Community Services Night to End Hunger Gala.

“The artists have been very excited to share their creativity with whatever particular piece of wood has come from the Hobson Oak,” said Mary Lou Wehrli, a member of the Naperville Outdoor Alliance, who has organized the preservation and reuse project.

The fundraiser, at $350 a ticket, will give guests access to at least 10 pieces of art or furniture created from the oak and 10 saplings tended by the Morton Arboretum.

Naperville neighbors Dave Horton and Perry Martin are working together to make a “river table” and other pieces of furniture from wood salvaged from the Hobson Oak. Some pieces made from the oak are set to be sold during a live and silent auction Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Loaves & Fishes Community Services Night to End Hunger Gala. (Daily Herald file photo November 2017)

Most items will be sold in a silent auction format, with bidders who don’t buy gala tickets able to join in online, while a few will be auctioned live. Those not at the gala still can call in to bid during the live auction, said Michelle Iskowitz, associate director of marketing and communications for Loaves & Fishes Community Services.

The plan all along, since DuPage County cut down the Hobson Oak nearly two years ago, has been to give pieces of its wood to artisans, let them create masterpieces, then sell the works to benefit the Naperville Outdoor Alliance and partnering charities, Wehrli said. Loaves & Fishes is the first to join the effort.

Mike Havala, Loaves & Fishes president and CEO, called the Hobson Oak itself “magnificent” and the artisan works created from it “exquisite.”

He said his organization is honored to be sharing in proceeds from the auction of oak-made items, which will be split with the Naperville Outdoor Alliance. The Morton Arboretum also will receive 25 percent of proceeds from auction of the saplings, which are among 356 tiny trees growing from acorns gathered at the oak’s base.

“They’ll be two years old and are as cute as can be,” Wehrli said about the saplings.

After this first auction, Wehrli said the Outdoor Alliance board plans to meet to set the course for other future fundraisers. No other partnering organizations have been chosen and no other auctions have been scheduled.

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Written by: Marie Wilson, Daily Herald