Tisbury has lost one of its oldest residents - the Linden Tree is dead. While some sprouts still appear from its trunk, its vast summer canopy is lost. Now stark branches cast long shadows over Main street shops.
“It really looks like it reached the point of no return,” said Connie Leonard, a Tisbury resident. “It was just a part of Main street. It was the accepted spot to meet someone. I wish I had a nickel for every bake sale under that tree.”
Calls to libraries and town sages revealed no information on the tree’s history. While its origin remains a mystery, Tisbury public works manager Fred LaPiana says the tree was more than 150 years old. During the last few years Mr. LaPiana has been working with local arborist to save the tree, occasionally injecting it with fertilizer. 
In February, the dosage didn’t take, making Mr. LaPiana wait for spring buds. They never arrived, so the prognosis wasn’t favorable. Its death is blamed on old age and salt spray from Hurricane Bob.
“It was big when I was growing up,” said Mrs. Leonard, now 85 years old. “It’s been a big full tree ever since I was roller skating down Main street.”
Mr. LaPiana is forming a committee with arborists and Tisbury residents to determine the dead tree’s final fate. Mr. LaPiana wants people to say goodbye to the Linden Tree and have a chance to remember it. Early ideas include a festival for the tree, cutting a section of the tree, and planting a memorial Linden Tree with a plaque to remember its namesake. 
“I think each person will have to say goodbye in their own way,” Mr. LaPiana told the Tisbury board of selectmen this week.
Isabel West vacationed on the Island as a child before becoming a year-round resident. She remembers the tree as a holiday gathering spot. “It’s a shame because we don’t have a place to put the Christmas lights or hold bake sales,” she said. “It’s really a part of Vineyard Haven life.”
Mrs. West also worked with the Friends of Tisbury, a group that works to beautify downtown. During that time she was asked to water the tree. “I asked where would I find its roots, China?”
Jane Gannon, a clothing designer, has been looking at the Linden Tree’s branches from her Main street workshop for 20 years. She has seen other trees removed and not replaced. She hopes the Linden Tree doesn’t meet the same fate.
“We’re all mourning it, but hopefully it will spark something new,” she said. “It’s been a gathering spot for people of every description: kids after school, tourists looking for serenity. These old trees are just a cherished part of the landscape in town. There are very few trees on Main street and it looks as though it’s a project that the town should go into.”
Mrs. Leonard remembers no Tisbury trees that carried the same significance. She said it was always the accepted spot to meet and a part of the Tisbury vernacular. 
The tree will be cut after the summer season. Those interested in sitting on the Linden Tree committee are asked to contact Mr. LaPiana at the Tisbury public works department. “For those who wish to participate in the process to say goodbye to the tree, it’s a good time to do that,” Mr. LaPiana said.
“It’s very said,” said Mrs. Leonard. “I’m sure everyone feels very bad. I hope they will plant a nice sturdy tree for my great-grandchildren to enjoy.”

From the November 15, 1996 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:


The End of a Very Long Era

This week the historic linden tree on Main street in Vineyard Haven was removed after a long and happy life as a community landmark. All manner of town gatherings and personal encounters centered around the stately tree. As sad residents and visitors alike may be, they may take consolation in the planting of a successor tree, a new linden for a new era.