Friends of the Archibald Walk Tree House - Why Challenge the DC Public Space Committee "Decision" ?

This site was created in 2016 by a small group of DC residents who believe in this magical fort, and our nation's capitol becoming friendly to backyard tree houses as places of wonder and discovery.  Rather than paying lawyers to get this structure torn down in a city without a niche for play forts in its building code, DDOT should work with DCRA and the Historic Preservation Office to update the Code.  Most of the Metro area suburban municipalities thoughtfully regulate tree house construction.  

We object to the way ANC 6B and DC's top zoning authority--the Public Space Committee--allowed a small group of older neighborhood residents and their ANC commissioner to harness unwarranted review of a closed public space construction permit as a tool of revenge in response to DDOT's eviction of an alley forest dating to the 90s.  At the conclusion of the January 2016 PSC meeting, we were troubled by the sight of the neighbors who'd testified in favor of the tree house's destruction hugging, cheering and pumping fists in the air, with no objection from any City official.  They believed that they'd succeeded in getting the family's construction permit revoked, portending the tree house's immediate destruction.  WJLA Channel 7-ABC covered the neighbors' reaction at the PSC hearing:

The tree house is a harmless structure that DC should leave alone.  If the single senior DDOT official who is intent on seeing it torn down gets his way, the agency will have wrecked a child's fort for reasons the public is not privy to. DDOT has abused its authority in trying to tear up a closed construction permit, depriving a family of rights granted  under DC law.   The neighbors appear to have moved on, and it's time for DDOT, perhaps the worst-run of the DC administrative agencies, to do the same.  

The Tree House in Perspective- Why Should it Be Saved?

We ask, how would the early destruction of this little tree house be in the public interest in a vibrant neighborhood packed with young families and large trees?  Shouldn't the City strive to strike a balance in meeting the recreational needs of each generation?  Demolish this tree house prematurely to what end?  So that the fast-changing CH Historic District can become a little less child-friendly?  So that the kids who play in the fort can spend more time inside?  So that litigation can continue until the Yee girls have aged out of their tree house? 

Visitors to this web site and City planners might wish to consider the irony of the newly funded Eastern Market Metro Park (EMMP) plan including a tree house.  The structure has been approved for construction in the "Parcel 1 Play Area," of the development, the swathe of the park bounded by D Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE between 8th and 9th.  This site is several blocks northeast of the Psychas-Yee's SE property.  Since the City is now in the business of erecting tree houses in public space, why not leave the existing neighborhood tree house alone?  The fact is, the popularity of urban tree houses has surged in recent years.  See slides 20 and 25 of the EMMP plan for visuals of the future tree house:

Thanks, kind reader, for some castle dreamin' about a back alley enhanced by a sweet tree house.  Bing and Ellen have worked hard to preserve their play fort on principle, believing the DC consumer has a right to know exactly what they're allowed to build, and that the rights conferred by closed construction permits should be respected.  They have also done their best to give the public access to the tree house under controlled conditions, holding neighborhood open houses and developing the fort as a bird watching platform for local children's organizations.  

Meet the Other Hill Tree House, Frontier Version

Dan Silverman, editor of the Popville "It's a Beautiful Life" DC neighborhoods blog, posted this shot of a "sweet tree house" back in 2012.  By his recollection, the "other" Hill tree house was situated somewhere in NE, north of LP.  After the Archibald Walk tree house war broke out, rumors of a "frontier style fort" on the Hill, built some years earlier, were swirling, motivating us to cycle through red brick alleys in search of the structure.  The small tree house was legally built without a permit, because it's platform is less than 50 SQF.  Thank you, readers who sent in tips to help us find it, on the lot of 1246 C Street NE.  We promote the sharing of permitting experiences DC tree builders have had, research to pressure the city bureaucracy to create a niche in the building code for play forts.  If you have permitting experiences to share, email                                                        Photo courtesy of