Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont offers over 80 hands-on courses per year in design, construction, woodworking, and architectural craft and offers a variety of courses concentrating in sustainable design. Now in its 35th year, Yestermorrow is one of the only design/build schools in the country, teaching both design and construction skills. Our hands-on 1-day to 3-week workshops, certificate programs and semester programs are taught by top architects, builders, and craftspeople from across the country. For people of all ages and experience levels, from novice to professional.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Life and Death of a Structure

When I arrived at Yestermorrow for the first time in the summer of 2002, one of my first assignments was to join John Connell (Yestermorrow's founder) for a day to work with him shingling the exterior of the Yestermorrow treehouse. He would hold each cedar shingle up to the wall, draw a pencil line to continue the organic curve of the wall, and then hand it to me. I would jigsaw the shingle, then hand it back to him to hammer in. It was tedious work, but inspiring to see the care and attention given to each and every detail.

Photo credit Matthew Rakola

The Yestermorrow treehouse was a brainchild of John Connell and arborist Bill DeVos, and the first of what would prove to be many Yestermorrow treehouse projects. The treehouse was designed as an early prototype for a universally accessible treehouse and the unofficial launch of the Forever Young Treehouse organization. Started in the summer of 2000, the treehouse evolved over the next five years to become one of the flagship hang-out spots on campus, boasting a handmade hammock and an eclectic collection of furniture built by students over the years. The treehouse has hosted many a quiet nap break, gaggles of schoolchildren, yoga classes, and the occasional staff meeting.

Built and maintained by many Yestermorrow faculty, staff, interns and volunteers, the Yestermorrow treehouse has been a collaborative effort, and has continued to evolve with new additions and improvements from year to year. 

Photo credit Dean Kaufman
Since its construction, Yestermorrow has offered one of the only treehouse design and construction courses in the world, inspiring many students to go on to build their own backyard projects. Moreover, many of the people involved in building Yestermorrow's treehouse took the knowledge gained to other treehouse projects around the world, including Forever Young Treehouses, The Treehouse Guys, Stauffer Woodworking, Winvian Farm Resort and others.

Sadly, though, Yestermorrow's treehouse prototype must come down this spring after 14 years of enjoyment and learning. Last fall we discovered serious structural rot issues compromising the safety of the structure and since then have had it closed to visitors. After investigating what it would take to repair the structure, replace the roof, and rebuild the ramp, we've decided to deconstruct the treehouse and put our attention towards a new future treehouse on campus. This summer's treehouse class will hopefully help us identify potential sites and start the brainstorming process.
Photo credit Matthew Rakola

Prior to its deconstruction in early May we would like to invite everyone who helped to build the structure and who has enjoyed it over the years to join us for a memorial of sorts, to celebrate and appreciate the Yestermorrow treehouse on Sunday, April 13th at 4:00pm. If you cannot join us in person please feel free to send your remembrances to to be shared at the ceremony.

Kate Stephenson
Executive Director

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