The first visual evidence of the “Pe-et Tree” appears in this 1907 photo of the oval and University Hall. It is the last tree in the center row, just right of the fire hydrant.
The large elm standing in front of Evans Hall goes back a long time in OU’s history. Probably planted at David Ross Boyd’s order, the tree was nearly axed in 1912 when Evans Hall was completed. It was spared only because of the efforts of Tom Ferguson, superintendent of buildings and grounds and the Pe-et honorary society. Pe-et, an honorary fraternity of senior men, had used the tree since 1910 for initiation ceremonies and saw itself as the tree’s protector. In 1937, the university regents formally designated the tree as the “Pe-et Tree”.
President Stratton Brooks’ inauguration in 1912. The pardoned Pe-et Tree is at the right.
Students gather under the Pe-et Tree and on the steps of Evans Hall in the fall of 1935. Shrubbery has been added along the boundary of the oval by this time.