Potawatomi Tree: Early Meeting Place

Gazette Article by: Tom Hermes
Appeared in the Gazette: Fall 1995

In the history of the North Shore, one of the most interesting natural landmarks was the Potawatomi, or Council tree. This tree, situated on a farm near the corner of Hibbard and Glenview Roads, was said to be the meeting place of Indians for many years.

This ancient cottonwood tree was a giant, reported to be between 135-165 feet tall. To put it in perspective, a 165-foot tree would be twice as tall as the cupola atop the Winnetka Village Hall! It was 19 feet in diameter with a circumference of 45 feet. Hollowed out on the inside, it had an 8-1/2 foot doorway leading into a chamber that was 20 feet high and 13 feet across.

Legend has it that the Potawatomi Indians used the hollow tree for council meetings and ceremonial dances. Twenty people or a team of horses could fit in the “council room.”

The tree burned in 1903, and it was rumored that it was set on fire by disgruntled sightseers protesting the 10-cent admission fee charged by the farmer on whose land the tree stood. After the tree was cut down, an examination of its rings determined it to be 600 years old. The tree was displayed in a lot next to Dyche Stadium until the 1950’s, when it was removed to make room for a parking lot. A section is on display at the Glenview Historical Museum.

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