Toomer's Corner is an Auburn University landmark at the intersection of Magnolia and College Streets, at the entrance to campus from downtown Auburn. The site has been a significant entrance way since 1856, but took its name only after Toomer's Drugs opened on the corner in 1896.
According to tradition, there was a time when the drug store had the only telegraph in the city. When the football team won an away game, the clerks would roll the oak trees outside with toilet paper to announce the victory. Since then, the corner has become a gathering spot for victory celebrations, usually ending with the trees thickly-festooned with toilet paper.
In early 2011 a man identifying himself as "Al from Dadeville" boasted on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network of having poisoned the then 80+ year-old trees in retaliation for perceived acts of disrespect to the memory of Bear Bryant by Auburn students and fans. A subsequent investigation showed that high doses of tebuthiuron had been introduced to the soil around the trees and there was little chance they would survive.
On February 17, Auburn police arrested Harvey Updyke and charged him with "criminal mischief, desecrating a venerated object and damaging agriculture". He pleaded guilty to "criminal damage of an agricultural facility" in April 2013 and was sentenced by Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker III to three years in prison with a minimum of 6 months to serve and 5 years probation, during which time he may not set foot on Auburn's campus, nor attend any college sporting event. He was also fined $1,000.
The oaks received emergency care from university horticulturists. Spring 2012 showed some promising signs for their survival, but in the end, the oaks could not be saved. They were removed after the April 20, 2013 A-Day intra-squad football game.
The University announced they would replace the oaks with wire structures suitable for rolling until newly-planted trees had time to mature. A re-design of the 1917 entrance to Samford Park allowed for longer seat-walls and a broader paved plaza. Wood from the original Toomer's oaks was recycled into licensed keepsakes, the sale of which helped fund scholarships to the University.
The replacement trees were planted in early 2015 and the practice of rolling them was allowed beginning with the 2016 football season. Late on the evening of September 24, 2016, several hours after a home victory against the LSU tigers, a male set fire to some of the toilet paper on the smallest of the trees, which spread quickly through the tissue covering the tree. The extent of the damage is uncertain. Local resident Jochen Wiest was taken into custody by Auburn police and charged with public intoxication, "desecration of a venerable object," a class A misdemeanor, and felony "first-degree criminal mischief".
- Belanger, Evan (May 21, 2013) "Auburn University determines age of iconic Toomer's oaks." The Birmingham News
- Crepea, James (September 25, 2016) "Oak tree at Toomer's Corner set on fire after Auburn win over LSU, suspect arrested." The Birmingham News
- Toomer's Corner webcam