Former Wiltonian and the ‘Constitution’ desk

John Lawrence, who lived for a time in Wilton and died on July 31, was remembered by former First Selectman Bob Russell as a master woodworker who built many beautiful pieces of furniture.

One of these, he told The Bulletin, is the country desk he built for the Wilton Historical Society and which is on a long-term loan to the first selectman’s office.

“The desk was built from the Constitution Oak, which stood on the front lawn of Town Hall and came down in one of those famous July storms, this one on July 23, 1991,” Russell said. Gregory’s Sawmill cut it into lumber and when it was seasoned Lawrence built the desk.

“Why, you wonder, was it called the Constitution Oak?” Russell asked and then supplied the answer.

“In 1902, the state called a convention to revise the state constitution. The result was rejected by the cities and towns, but all of the towns received a pin oak seedling. Ours was planted at the Old Town Hall. The tree was moved to the front lawn of the present Town Hall sometime after it opened in 1931, where it stood for nearly 60 years.”