WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Right on the grounds of St. Mary's school, one of Wilmington's oldest citizens is still going strong. The Boundary Oak as it's known has a very special meaning, hearkening to a quainter Wilmington of the past.

"Wilmington stopped right here," says Suzanne Smith, retired St. Mary's second grade teacher. "This was it."

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Over 55 feet tall, sixteen feet around, and estimated to be 200-250 years old, the old giant got its name because it used to be the boundary of Wilmington. A 1769 map shows the settlement of Wilmington in its infancy and clearly marks the oak on the edge of town (4th Street today). 

The fact that it still stands tall has much to do with the school it calls home.  

"We could've torn (our) building down, but we didn't," says Smith. "We worked really hard to save (that), and we've worked really hard to save this tree."
Smith worked along with the Class of 1995 to produce a historic marker that now lies at the foot of the tree. She also petitioned the Live Oak Society, which accepted the tree as a member in 2003.
These efforts make it ever harder for anything to happen to this piece of living history.
While Wilmington has outgrown the boundary once set by this tree, the tree will remain an important part of Wilmington for generations to come.