Workers chop apart the monkey coconut palm at Fireside Inn last week after safety concerns caused the tree to be removed. (Photo by Jon Allred)

KING CITY — Tree-cutting began Aug. 4 at Fireside Inn, where a massive palm tree growing through the office roof has been taken out piece-by-piece over the course of a week.

The palm tree was at least 80 years old, perhaps as old as 100, having been a mature tree before the original Palm Motel office was constructed around it in the 1950s.

According to Fireside Inn owner Nikki Patel, the main catalyst for the tree removal was insurance reasons. Patel said the leaves drying out and falling onto the nearby sidewalk is a safety hazard, even though her family has enjoyed the tree and its coconuts.

“It has huge branches and could hurt someone,” she said. “We’re sad to see it go.”

The tree was noted as being a “Monkey Coconut Palm” in a postcard about the King City landmark from decades back. Patel said the tree had cultural significance to her family as part of Hindu culture.

“It’s not easy for us to let it go,” she said, adding that the family did not have another option due to the safety risk.

The tree was taken apart in chunks rather than sliced down as a whole trunk due to its weight, Patel said. She explained the tree could have fallen on the inn’s roof had it been cut in one pass.

The property at the corner of Broadway Street and Mildred Avenue was a residence before becoming the Palm Motel, having belonged to the family of John and Cora Rist Campbell. The house itself was moved by builder Dan Hayes to Ulrey Street to facilitate the construction of the motel, which was run by the Salmina family.

When the motel was sold to Channing Edrington, he changed the property name to Fireside Inn, and later sold it to the Patel family.

With the loss of one of the most noticeable sights on Broadway, Patel and her family now have to consider what to do with a hole in their office roof. She said they are considering a sunroof, which will require approval and permits from the city.

A postcard from the 1950s claims the palm tree formerly at Fireside Inn was 60 years old even when the original Palm Motel was built around it. (Contributed Photo)
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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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