New Cedars of Lebanon

Jeff Kaiser (left), facilities manager for Mt. Lebanon School District, and Ron Block, of the Mt. Lebanon Nature Conservancy, stand behind one of two Cedar of Lebanon saplings that they planted inside Millennial Park on the corner of Washington and Cochran Roads.

Ron Block was bothered by a song lyric.

Mt. Lebanon High School’s alma mater starts off with, “’Neath cedars stately, ‘midst hills so bold / Stands our Mt. Leb’non, realm of blue and gold.”

One problem: No cedars.

“We could easily have the high school under waving cedars, just no one ever planted any,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to rectify that, and hopefully they’ll grow in the future.”

Block, vice president of projects for the Mt. Lebanon Nature Conservancy, tracked down two cedar of Lebanon trees at a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, nursery and planted them in Millennium Park near the high school, with the help of high school facilities manager Jeff Kaiser, director of facilities Rick Marciniak and the conservancy.

Rev. Joseph Clokey planted the original cedar trees.

Cedars of Lebanon are important to Mt. Lebanon’s history. The municipality takes its name from two cedar of Lebanon trees planted by the Rev. Joseph Clokey, pastor of St. Clair Church (now Mt. Lebanon Evangelical Presbyterian Church) following a trip to the Middle East in the 1850s. Although there is one on Morgan Drive, the original cedars of Lebanon are long gone.

The trees aren’t suited for cold and rainy Pittsburgh temperatures, so they are difficult to maintain. Block hopes that in the future, people grow to appreciate the trees as a part of Mt. Lebanon’s culture and history.

“That would be nice that if in the future, people feel like there have to be cedars in that space,” Block said. “It’s a very prominent corner, two of the major roads in the town, and it’s one of the highest points [in Mt. Lebanon]…it would be nice to think that now that would become part of the tradition to make sure there’s always cedars up on the hill there.”