About 40 years ago, Richard Harris, former superintendent of the Archbold Area School District, was walking through a plant nursery, where he found three California redwood trees.
He bought one of the three.
Harris brought the sixfoot tall tree to his home at 3512 Westwood Dr., west of Archbold, and planted it.
Today, 3512 Westwood is owned by Les and Sherry Wyse, and that little six-foot tree stands at least 50 feet tall, with a trunk so big, a man can’t reach around it.
Harris thinks his California redwood may be the only tree of its kind in the area.
There’s another small grove of unusual trees on the property, called coffee trees.
“They make a pod with a bean that looks like a coffee bean, so the early settlers called them coffee trees. They actually brewed that bean, and made a drink from it,” he said.
“They’re very rare trees. There probably aren’t any more like them in northwest Ohio.”
Harris came to Archbold as superintendent of schools in 1969. He was the third superintendent at Archbold.
At the time, there were no houses for sale in Archbold.
Tom Vitello, a teacher in the school district, was building the house on Westwood. Harris said he bought the house before it was finished.
He and his wife Delores moved their family from North Baltimore to Archbold.
He planted the redwood, little more than a stick, in either 1972 or 1973.
About 10 years later, in 1982, he retired from his post as superintendent after 15 years of service. He moved to Gainesville, Fla., in 1986. Delores died in 2004.
Today, the three Harris children– Richard Lynn, Ceann, and Cynthia– all live in Gainesville.
Harris spends his summers in Continental.
He and a friend came to Archbold for the annual Carp Fest activities, and decided to check on the Redwood tree he planted “30- some years ago.”
Harris said when he planted the little tree about four decades ago, “I didn’t even know if it would grow, if it could take our climate.”
Apparently, the California native likes northwest Ohio just fine.
“Must be good ground,” Harris said.