Starting in the 1930s, the Whitworth Tree served as a “lover’s lane” for Whitworth couples. The tree, located in what was once the Back 40, featured a bowed trunk that provided a romantic seat for two, and was the traditional place on campus to propose. After a while, however, the tree lost its spell. “There was a time when every male on campus would shake in his boots at the mention of this botanical terror. Ask any co-ed on campus who has made the pilgrimage with her man,” wrote a student in The Whitworthian, in 1955.
The Whitworth Tree nearly met its demise when Duvall Hall was under construction in 2006, as portions of the Back 40 were cleared for parking. The iconic tree was saved, but its roots lost much of their stability when the other trees around it were removed. When a windstorm blew the tree over as East Hall construction neared completion in 2009, the decision was made to leave the stump on site and prop up the bench portion of the tree, where it remains as part of a planted area in the parking lot.