Treehouse Down!?!

October 20, 2009

treehouse in worcester ma

I have to share this treehouse with you….before it is gone.  Yes, the owner is sadly being forced to tear it down. Sprout mentioned this local story to me in a comment and I have to say I am outraged and sad.  It seems this awesome tree house, which was built over the last 2 months to celebrate the glory of this amazing 300 year old oak tree, has caused a rift among neighbors and friends and the rift has gone so far, that the treehouse is being ordered down.

My daughter is watching over my shoulder as I type this….she can’t help but to be interested in such a fun looking structure (who can?).  I have explained to her that I am writing about it because it is going to be torn down — she is brainstorming 1st grade minded suggestions for saving it — my favorite is “why can’t he move it to the other side of the yard?”

Mr. Chapman – who is a Botany Professor and the creator of this tree house, envisioned it to be a Bancroft Tower for his neighborhood…. Bancroft Tower a lovely structure to be inspired by — it was built on one of the 7 hills of Worcester MA  by a guy named Stephen Salisbury to honor his friend George Bancroft (a former Secretary of the Navy, founder of the US Navel Academy at Annapolis, US Minister to Germany and Great Britain, and he delivered the eulogy at Lincolns funeral).  At the base is a compass that points to the 6 other hills of Worcester – 2 of which once were sites of other Salisbury structures that were also dedicated to people he admired but they have both been lost for lack of protection (thankfully Bancroft Tower is on the National Register of Historic Places, and while it not regularly open and in disrepair, at least it is not going to be torn down).

bancroft towers worcester ma

I think we need more people with this sort of vision and drive.  Here is my offer to Mr. Chapman — move your treehouse to my property– I too am on the top of a hill in Worcester County — rebuild your treehouse (or add on to our humble beginnings) — have views of Boston to the east and Wachusett to the west.  I will continue to develop the gardens and grounds, I will open it to kids, friends, family and you, whenever you want.  We will participate in garden tours and open days and invite the public in to appreciate your creation, share your vision and hopefully you can be an inspiration to others.  My neighbors won’t complain — they are like minded people — this my neighbor at the back’s home — he is a professor of Architecture at MIT — I guess he turned over part of his house to a student experiment once. — to interesting results….

eastern neighbor

It’s like windows starting growing this canker like formation on the side of an otherwise more normal seeming house.

And here is my neighbor to the south (he is a professor at Tufts) — he has 13 acres of stunningly manicured gardens and the best collection of Day lilies you have ever seen — but his house could possibly fall down in the next good wind storm (no- I am not exaggerating – we all have our priorities right? his is the garden).

southern neighbors daylily garden

They have gone off for the season — but imagine all these beds full of daylilies in the summer.

southern neighbor

Perhaps I do not show the most derelict piece of this home -funny it actually looks better in this picture- but trust me –its falling down.

Oh and on the other side is Harvard University — they are quiet neighbors….but they built this huge satellite dish and laser telescope….  Apparently they are trying to communicate with aliens.  Being right next door, and the first house an alien visitor might come across, I like to think of ourselves as untitled Ambassadors to the Universe.

Here is the thing….last time I checked — Harvard (which is in Worcester County) had THE highest property values in the county — fascinating, given all this adventurous construction and quirky and questionable maintenance.   Maybe maintaining high property values has a little more to do with the feel of a place and a loving accepting community of people than a conforming vision of perfectly cultivated homes.  Would you agree?

The newspaper article mentioned that the neighbors concern is about property values.  Which has me floored. (seriously the guy next door is threatening to burn the treehouse and kill his neighbor over property values?)  I think this would add value, but maybe I am an odd ball who loves living next to an alien observatory?….what do you think?  If you were house shopping, would you think this treehouse added to the property value or detracted from it….how about if you were considering a neighboring property? Let’s discuss.

Mr Chapman has until Nov 3rd to finish the treehouse (as he has said he would) and then tear it down….I do hope that he invites people to come for a visit and enjoy it as it was intended  before it is gone.  At least it will live in on peoples hearts and minds and they can pass it along – at least in story form – to future generations and hopefully inspire them to build their dreams.

REgister now!

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  1. invisiblebees says:

    Unbelievable. I can maybe understand being concerned about privacy from the higher elevations of the treeshouse, but to say it diminishes property values because it exists seems ignorant to me. …I can’t help but wonder what other grudges the complaining neighbor holds against Mr. Chapman. There’s got to be more to the story… this treehouse is really doing no harm (except maybe to the 300 year old tree…).

  2. how it grows says:

    Who would complain about something like this?

  3. Susan aka Miss R says:

    This person…the one who wants to tear down the tree house is obviously a self centered misanthrope who has stopped dreaming about what life could be. How sad to be so worried about the status quo.

  4. Dawn Isaac says:

    I love it! What on earth is his neighbour’s problem? Are they doing something untoward in their yard and don’t wish to be overlooked? Maybe they are aliens?

  5. Jacqui says:

    I live in Santa Monica…the property values in Topanga and Santa Monica Canyon are the highest anywhere in the neighborhood, and those houses are eclectic to say the least. I would want to live next door to this man so I could share his treehouse. That seems like a no-brainer.

  6. Very sad. But my question is how did you get those awesome neighbors in that amazing area on a Landscape Architect’s salary?

  7. Chuck says:

    I used to live in Santa Monica as well and echo Jacqui’s comments above. There were some great older homes there…unfortunately many were torn down (re-modeled) and replaced with much larger homes that were a bit too large for the lot size.

    One newer home that was interesting was that of Police lead guitarist Andy Summers…if I remember correctly, it had a wall that blocked the front of the entire house. The wall had a door which openned to a small courtyard and to the “real” front door. The front yard had no lawns…only grasses. Very cool. And Mr. Summers was a very nice man.

  8. Sprout says:

    I think the general public’s comments on the original article show how all over the place opinion really is – Mr. Chapman was called everything from a nutcase to an artist. Which for many is the same thing! 😉

    I think the city’s interests in removing the tree house are primarily about following zoning codes and safety, not inherently bad. Without them, many of us would be living in houses that Jack built. If I recall, any structure exceeding 3 stories would need a variance in this neighborhood, whether it was a tree house or not.

    Beyond that, we’re talking aesthetics, which are incredibly subjective, giving us everything from vinyl siding & concrete to cedar shakes & bluestone. As for property values and paranoid privacy issues – it might be time to plant some nice tall evergreens!

  9. Kelly says:

    I just came across this story and it really saddens me. He is actually doing no harm to the tree by drilling into it. Trees can handle that. He has constructed an awesome tree house that I would love to have in my yard and I’m 35! It’s disappointing that people can be so very petty. And why not have this tree house in the neighborhood for inspiration?! Conformity is rather boring.

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