'Shawshank' tree wood reportedly burned at sawmill during cleanup

LUCAS ― Some of the lumber that was left from the iconic oak tree featured in "The Shawshank Redemption" is now at the center of a civil suit.

The wood had been left at a sawmill for milling to be used for commemorative items, but allegedly was burned, according to the tree's co-owner. Oak

The famous oak tree, which was struck by lightning in 2011 and fell over in 2016, had been located on private property on Pleasant Valley Road near Malabar Farm.

It was seen in "Shawshank" when Red, the character played by Morgan Freeman, walked along a hay field and removed stones from a rock wall, and where Andy, the character played by Tim Robbins, kept a gift for Red.

Dan Dees, co-owner of the property where the tree once stood, established a business that would sell milled portions of the tree which would then be converted into commemorative consumer products, according to the lawsuit, filed by his Cleveland attorney Robert J. Vecchio.

An initial scheduling conference is set for Thursday on a lawsuit Dees filed in November in Richland County Common Pleas Court.

According to the lawsuit, Dees entered into an agreement in April 2017 with William A. Spohn, who owns and operates a sawmill in Perrysville. Dees was to deliver portions of the Shawshank tree to Spohn to store on his premises and mill into wood planks upon demand. Dees thereafter delivered portions of the tree to the sawmill operator, who stored the wood on his premises and would mill the tree as directed, according to the lawsuit.

As of October 2019, the sawmill operator had in his possession about 500 board feet from the butt log portion of the tree, the lawsuit alleges.

Around October 2019, Dees went to the sawmill and discovered the remaining portion of the the tree was missing.

"Defendant claimed that the same had been mistakenly burned by an employee of defendant in the process of cleaning up his property," the suit said.

Dees has suffered significant financial loss and damages and alleges that as a result of the defendant's destruction of Dees' property, the sawmill operator breached its contract with the plaintiff, the lawsuit said.

A portion of the tree had fallen on July 29, 2011, when the tree was split by lightning during a storm. In 2016, the entire Shawshank tree was down, apparently blown over by a southwest wind.

The filming of "The Shawshank Redemption" at the historic Ohio State Reformatory and much of north central Ohio in 1993, has since attracted visitors worldwide to the historic prison turned museum in Mansfield. The site of the film's oak tree is included on the Shawshank Trail, which links local places featured in the film.

The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards but did not win any awards. 

Users of the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) rank "Shawshank" as the best ever made.

The lawsuit states that the plaintiff wants to be compensated for any and all amounts that will adequately compensate him for his damages and losses, for the costs of the lawsuit, and other associated costs.

Vecchio said Friday that Dees had a number of commemorative items planned for the "Shawshank" wood, including hammers, paper weights and plaques.

engineered parquet flooring "Since the tree went down there has been a huge demand for commemorative pieces from the wood," Vecchio said.