US post office tree in Marquette relocated

Peter Zenti, left, Earl Senchuk and Allison Kublin, all of Marquette, remove the steel-and-concrete tree by the Marquette post office. Kublin will make a new tree to replace the current one, which Senchuk created. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — It’s been a familiar sight at the Marquette post office, specifically at the corner of Washington and Third streets.

Over the years, flower pots, lights and pink ribbons — each symbolizing a person affected by breast cancer — have decorated the tree, which really isn’t a tree but a sculpture that resembles one.

The tree has been moved and sold to an Indianapolis company, but eventually another one will take its place.

Marquette artist Earl Senchuk, the creator of the tree sculpture, oversaw the removal of the tree on Wednesday.

The post office, he explained, is being renovated, so the sculpture had to be taken off the site.

It won’t, however, be turned into scrap metal. The tree was sold to Gary Greenhouse Inc., an Indianapolis-based nursery.

Senchuk has been a long-time creator of the unique sculptures, one of which used to be at the Marquette Welcome Center in Harvey. There are others in the area as well, he said.

“It’s the first tree ever to go to a large city, and I’ve been turning away business for years,” Senchuk said.

At first glance, the post office sculpture could be mistaken for a tree with its limbs cut off.

However, it was made that way for a purpose. When it was illuminated at night, for instance, light clusters would adorn the tree, setting it apart from real trees across town whose Christmas lights simply were strung through the branches.

Senchuk said the post office sculpture is made out of steel and concrete.

It also had to be structured in a certain way to show off its potential.

“What you want there is to make sure that you’ve got space between flower pots so one’s not drooping down on top of another one,” Senchuk said.

The struts define the shape of the tree and the taper to the branches, said Senchuk, who added that the holes in the struts allowed him to put in an automatic plumbing system.

An orange tube acts as a liner that goes all the way down underneath the tree and continues to the faucet.

“It’s all programmable,” Senchuk said. “It waters itself four times a day.”

The new tree, though, will be made by his apprentice, Allison Kublin, of Marquette. He also hopes to teach veterans — many of whom, he said, have post-traumatic stress disorder and can’t get a “normal” job — how to make the trees.

Senchuk said he receives requests for these trees across the country.

“I’m just going to transfer that knowledge over to them because I’m getting too old to make trees,” he said.

Kublin anticipates creating her own tree.

“I’m so excited to do something like this,” Kublin said.