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

This site was created 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 the structure torn down in a municipality without a niche for tree houses in its building code, DDOT should work with DCRA and the Historic Preservation Office to update the code to regulate play fort and tree house construction, like most of the suburban municipalities in the Metro Area. 

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 the ANC 6B03 commissioner to harness 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 half a dozen neighbors who'd testified in favor of the tree house's destruction hugging, cheering and pumping fists in the air.  They believed that they'd succeeded in getting the family's construction permit revoked, clearing the way for the demolition of two litle girls' beloved fort.  

The tree house is a harmless structure which the City should leave alone.  If the senior public space management official who is intent on seeing it torn down gets his way, DDOT will have wrecked a child's fort for political reasons the public is not privy to. DDOT has abused its authority in permitting this structure, threatening rights granted to the builders under the law.   In the years the fort has stood, neighborhood kids have grown attached to the backyard "princess castle."  Most of the objecting neighbors appear to have moved on and it's time for DDOT to do the same.  

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

We ask, how would the early destruction of a 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?  Without the WaPo's sympathetic coverage of the parents' permitting efforts, DDOT would surely have moved even more aggressively in its unlawful campaign to compell them to tear a harmless fort down.  To what end?  So that the fast-changing Capitol Hill Historic District can become a little less child-friendly?  So that the local 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, including where tree houses are concerned, and that the rights conferred by a closed construction permit should be respected by city permitting authorities.  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 children.  So let's celebrate a magical castle appreciated by many young Hill residents for as long as the fort lasts, keeping an eye out for DDOT permitting tricks.  

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