WRENTHAM

It has to be the tallest totem pole for miles around, a work of art that has given new life to a dying tree and become a beacon for a local pub.

The 35-foot-high Celtic totem stands outside the Red Rooster Bar and Grill at 510 Washington St. (Route 1).

The totem was recently carved by an internationally-known chainsaw artist, “The Machine” Jesse Green, whose work has been shown on the National Geographic Channel series “American Chainsaw.”

The pine tree from which it was carved was an estimated 200 years old, but it died last year.

“The tree was majestic and around for long before us….. so to honor it, we’ve decided to memorialize it in art,” Jennifer Marshalsea, general manager of the Red Rooster, said in an email to The Sun Chronicle.

The tree was so tall Green had to use a lift to do his work, and it is his tallest, biggest project to date, according to Marshalsea.

“We’re pretty excited about it being seen from Route 1 and having it be the first Celtic totem of its kind,” she said.

The owner of the Red Rooster, John Carroll, is equally thrilled with the end result. Marshalsea provided photos of the totem, one with Carroll beaming next to it.

Carroll, who operates a billboard business, may be coming around to realizing totem poles may be a better advertisement.

The Red Rooster used to be considered the local biker bar, but since arriving at the establishment about four years ago, Marshalsea says a full-fledged effort has been made to become more a “family friendly” place, with extensive renovations undertaken.

Unfortunately, in the middle of the transformation, the tall old pine on the back patio started to wilt, its bark peeling off and cones dropping.

Instead of chopping the tree down, the pub operators decided to turn it into a monument of sorts, getting in touch with Green, who put his magic skills to work.

Green has been carving trees for more than 20 years. He has a degree in sculpture from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and has put it to good use. Green has been featured on TV and in nationally-recognized newspapers and served as an MC for a lumberjack show.

The chainsaw artist has carved figures for World Wrestling Entertainment, a Boch car dealership, and on Martha’s Vineyard. He has also carved the rings of Boston sports teams into four tree trunks.

Green was drawn to the local project because of the height of the tree, and he viewed it as a personal challenge, unlike any other projects he has worked on.

“It took a few months, maybe 10,” Marshalsea said.

The totem features a clauda, which is a symbol of welcome. There are also two hands holding a heart over a door, a fairy door, and a peace sign.

The totem also reflects the heritage of the business.

Marshalsea’s grandfather came to the U.S. from Ireland, and they try to keep some of that culture alive at the Red Rooster. Whether it be the themed menu items, the flag on the door, or the overall feel when you walk into the bar, they try to keep things Irish.

In the 1920s, long before the Red Rooster, the tree marked the location of a gas station used by those traveling along Route 1, then the main route, north and south, along the Eastern Seaboard.

Eventually the fueling station became a local speakeasy called The LeSorelle. Motorcycle riders and enthusiasts flocked to the spot and became regulars. Over the years, The LeSorelle gained a reputation as a biker bar, but it closed about 10 years ago and eventually the Red Rooster took over.

Whereas before you likely would spot a few bikes parked near a tall pine, now you might see four-door sedans near a totem pole.

And what’s more family-friendly and inspirational than a 35-foot Celtic totem pole?

Interns Jaedin Johnson and Sravani Kaza contributed to this story.

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