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Jim Bramley ’73 crafted a portion of a tree trunk recovered 50 years ago at Hamilton into a lamp table.
There are no idle hands for James Bramley ’73, who in retirement crafted a table with an unusual Hamilton College provenance.
During the summer of 1972, Bramley was hired as a student to help the College grounds crew prune and cut trees, and work on the paths in Root Glen. The crew was clearing trees along Peter’s Lane when they came upon an old apple tree.

“As we cut through the trunk we could see that the core was hollow, and the bark and sapwood had created an interesting architecture,” the Oneida County native recalled.

Bramley had acquired an interest in forestry from his father, William Bramley ’40, who had also done basic furniture making. “I immediately saw the potential for the trunk to make a glass-top table,” he said.

Bramley saved a tree section and eventually stored it in his Clinton garage before career intervened. A biology major, he studied medicine in Rome, Italy, before transferring to Georgetown University, where he received an M.D. He served as an ER physician before completing an infectious diseases fellowship at Brown University. Bramley was in private practice in the Utica area for 30 years before retiring in 2019.

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He then set to work on the table and with the help of an artisan friend completed the project. “It was not difficult and required only some hours recutting, sanding and staining, and designing and purchasing the glass top,” Bramley said

Nearly 50 years later, the old trunk sits as a lamp table in Bramley’s home, a souvenir of a youthful summer spent working on College Hill.

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