"The Tree that Owns Itself," which is located at the top of the steep hill where Dearing and Finley Streets intersect, is probably the most unusual property holder in the world. The tree pays no taxes, is protected by the community and rests secure in its own enclosed garden-type lot. In addition, this unique tree has be featured in Ripley's "Believe it or Not" and has received regular attention from newspapers and magazines from around the world.
The land on which the tree stands was originally owned by Col. William H. Jackson, a professor at the University of Georgia. Legend has it that in the early 1800s, Professor Jackson, out of love for the great oak, deeded to the tree ownership of itself and the land within eight feet of it on all sides. The marker at the foot of the tree reads as follows: "For and in consideration of the great love I bear this tree and the great desire I have for its protection, for all time, I convey entire possession of itself and all land within eight feet of the tree on all sides." An original deed has not been located, but the Athens community has recognized the tree's title to the surrounding land and has taken measures to protect the tree. Philantrhopist George Foster Peabody paid to install the enclosure surrounding the tree.
The original tree became diseased and was blown down in a windstorm on October 9, 1942, and a new tree was grown from one of its acorns. The Junior Ladies Garden Club grew a sapling from one of the tree's acorns and planted it on the same spot October 9, 1946.
Its property rights have never been questioned.