While a handful of our projects are rather modern and turn-key, we also like to kick it back to our childlike roots and honor what got us into the trees in the first place…the childhood Treehouse!
We got the call from Make-A-Wish Foundation to do this treehouse in Modesto, CA for a 14-year-old boy named Connor. His dream was to have a treehouse themed as a designated pirate ship to foster the Peter Pan spirit within himself. Since his kindergarten year, when he received a routine physical, Connor struggled with kidney issues. As a result of the exam, it was determined that Connor would need kidney dialysis three times a week. Throughout years of this, Connor’s spirit remained positive and at the age 11, his optimism was rewarded by a life-changing call…a match had been found for a replacement kidney.
When we were contacted by Make-A-Wish Foundation and read about Connor’s story, we were so eager to put our knowledge of the trees and our craft into the creation of a safe and adventure-filled treehouse for Connor to enjoy for decades to come.
We began by consulting with a local treehouse designer, Michael Shulters, who drew a blueprint with all of the needed specs for making it the perfect reflection of a pirate ship. The combination of Shulters’ blueprint and the engineering skills of Charley Greenwood led us to welding together cross arm beams for supporting the foundation.
For one of the cross arm supports, a cement slab was laid, whereas, for the other, a TAB (treehouse attachment bolt), was used to attach it to the tree. Once those were in place, we laid the main deck support beams and installed the joists. We used stained redwood planks to lay the deck, which was 22ft x 16ft. This ship was to become be 2 stories. The main deck includes a room with bunk beds and the roosted lookout, with a ladder for entry, has a crawl hole for some additional swashbuckling character. We made hog-wire framed handrails to surround the deck, keeping it secure and safe for not only Connor but for his plank-walking friends and family, as well. For reaching the main deck, we built a stairway with a mid-journey landing.
Once The main decking and stairs were in place, we started fabricating the Pirate Ship. With authenticity in mind, we installed port hole windows, a mast with a large sail, flags, and even hand-crafted a cannon for Conner.
Something that uniquely differentiated this project from our others was our reconnection to the child-like wonder that comes with a Treehouse. That sense of play and adventure can easily be lost, especially while consumed by a very different focus, such as the resort-style treetop structures of a luxury caliber which also occupied ArtisTree around the time of the Pirate Ship treehouse…but Connor really brought us back to the root of what started it all, rewarding us through the reawakening of our Peter Pan spirits.
Getting a chance to spend time with Connor and his family was such a blessing and one that we will remember and cherish forever.
Throughout this project, we also had such an amazing sense of community and generous contributors, such as:
- Ahern Equipment Rental – Great staff, incredibly helpful! Donated a full day with a 6K lift for moving a column into place, arranged donated trucking to and from American Pavement Systems, and gave us priority on their delivery schedule.
- Billington Welding & Manufacturing – Donated time to fabricate a metal column and tree ledger
- American Pavement Systems (owner Marc Bertsch and Tony the welder) – Family: Very responsive and helpful; donated time and materials to weld a column and tree ledger.
- Yosemite Welding (owner Antony Konefat) – Very helpful, happy, and was able to pull through on short notice with quick turn-around/Donated welding to finish the tree ledger.
- American Lumber (owner Tarn Mensinger) – Discounted Redwood (our pick) for stairs and handrail/Free delivery.
- Conlin Supply – discounted wire panels for handrail and free delivery.
- Home Depot in Riverbank, CA – (manager Jeff Ayuso) – Donated/Discounted redwood 2×4s and hardware for handrails
And Last but not least:
- Tricia Litts, our Make-A-Wish coordinator, who makes over 100 wishes a year come to fruition.