By Paula Lloyd

Fresno Bee
Oct 25 2011

A stately Washingtonian pine tree that stood guard over the courtyard
of the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church at Ventura and M streets
in Fresno for 78 years is coming down.

In recent years, the tree became diseased and church leaders decided
it was time to take it down "before it falls down on its own," church
administrator Nazik Arisian said.

The tree, planted in 1933, became a much-beloved aspect of the church
grounds. It provided shade in the summer, joy when it was decorated
for Christmas and beauty year-round.

"It was always an important focal point of the courtyard. I hate to
see it come down," said Lucille Gahvejian, a long-time member of the
congregation and former church secretary.

The white-trimmed, red-brick church was built in 1914 and became not
only a distinct downtown Fresno landmark but also the heart of the
neighborhood between Inyo, O and Los Angeles streets and Broadway,
known as Armenian Town.

The tree is associated with an important time in the church's history
-- the calling of a new pastor. The church board was looking for a
new pastor, Gahvejian said, and decided on a beautification project
to make the building and grounds more appealing.

A family in the church provided for the tree and a neon cross, she
said, and the congregation soon appointed its new pastor, The Very
Rev. Kegham Kasimian.

The tree was 53 years old when the church was added to the National
Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Workers began taking the tree down Monday and the work is expected
to be completed today, Gahvejian said.

"I hope they plant another one," she said.