Portion of historic Jackson magnolia at White House to be cut down

Posted at 4:38 PM, Dec 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-26 16:38:35-05

WASHINGTON, DC (CNN) –  A portion of the historic Jackson magnolia at the White House will come down this week, after more than 180 years on the grounds of the presidential residence.

The decision to remove part of the tree was ultimately made by first lady Melania Trump. Experts recently determined it was too damaged to remain standing.

"Mrs. Trump personally reviewed the reports from the United States National Arboretum and spoke at length with her staff about exploring every option before making the decision to remove a portion of the Magnolia tree," Trump communications director Stephanie Grisham said.

"After reviewing the reports, she trusted that every effort had been made to preserve the historic tree and was concerned about the safety of visitors and members of the press who are often standing right in front of the tree during Marine One lifts."

The large magnolia is the oldest on the White House grounds.

The tree's long and storied history dates back to the presidency of Andrew Jackson.

His wife, Rachel, died shortly after his 1828 election victory.

It's said that he insisted on planting a sprout from her favorite magnolia at their Tennessee farm. It was added to the White House grounds in 1835.

The iconic tree has been in the background for countless events -- from state arrival ceremonies to Easter egg rolls and photo ops.

It has been ailing for decades and is supported by an extensive cabling system.

The plan is that another Jackson magnolia, a direct descendant from the original, will soon be planted in its place, for history to live on.

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