Branching out: Duxbury inn owners find opportunity in the trees
By David Taube
STAFF WRITER | February 23,2013
@Body Ragged Right:DUXBURY — This isn’t your average tree house.
A couple who runs an Adirondack-style bed and breakfast in Duxbury and a Berlin-based professional tree house constructor customized a two-story structure for overnight guest stays. The tree house features nearly 30 windows, wrap-around porches and a rustic feel with anything from exposed ceiling beams with hemlock wood to an inside staircase that circles a maple tree.
The tree house, about 10 feet off the ground, is held by two pine trees primarily through six steel pins that collectively support about 12 tons of weight. As the trees grow, the structure will remain at the same height, but the construction allows for the diameter of the trees to expand. During storms or windy days when the trees move in different directions, sliding joints allow give and take.
Visitors approaching the tree house are surrounded by a forest, and the tree house overlooks a pond. As guests walk up the steps of the tree house, they can see the porch’s siding jut out with asymmetric Adirondack-style porch railings. When they walk up the inside, circular staircase, rectangular windows of different sizes at eye level seamlessly allow guests to continue looking outside at the trees.
The project is the creation of woodworker Eyrich Stauffer of Woodbury — once an American studies major in college who took an elective in furniture then wound up in the tree house industry –— and a couple who’s run a bed and breakfast since the 1990s, Greg Trulson and Willie Docto, who tweaked and developed the design of the tree house as crews built it.
“He sat down with me on Day One and said, ‘What do you want? What do you envision?’” Trulson said. “As we build, it changes, and it’s organic in nature.”
Construction began in August when one of Stauffer’s tree house design and construction classes with the Waitsfield-based Yestermorrow Design/Build School built the main platform. Trulson said one bed and breakfast guest — who was scheduled to return to the lodge this year — saw the construction photos, and she quickly asked to switch her reservation to the tree house. The tree house will also have an electric fireplace and high-speed Wi-Fi Internet.
“I’ve built 20 tree houses over the last 12 years. This was the first one I did for a bed and breakfast,” said Stauffer, who’s built tree houses across the country and even for people who use wheelchairs at actor Paul Newman’s The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut.
The class had about 10 students in age groups ranging from about their 20s to 60s from the West Coast, mid-Atlantic states, Texas, Vermont and Canada. The group was at the property as part of a weeklong course that also goes over educational and design work, such as learning about tree biology and design principles and designing their own projects.
As opposed to your typical backyard tree house with boards that might have 100 nails in each board, professional tree houses take note that any attachment point to the tree could affect its longevity, said Stauffer, who likened the attachment points to wounds.
Stauffer and his work crew then built the remainder of the tree house, largely finishing the project in December.
Finishing touches are still needed, such as hanging custom-made light fixtures made out of antlers and an antler-made chandelier inside, painting trim and adding furniture and decorations.
The tree house will officially be available to rent out beginning this summer, and an open house will allow people to see the tree house as part of Duxbury’s 250-year celebration. The open house will occur from noon to 4 p.m. June 16 on Father’s Day as part of a bed and breakfast tour.
Information is available at www.duxbury250.com, which provides a link for buying tickets for the tour. Proceeds from the $10 tickets will benefit the Duxbury Historical Society.
As part of the organic development process, Stauffer and Trulson walked around the property of the bed and breakfast to look at about three or four different tree types to use as a center-point fixture for a circular staircase inside the tree house. Trulson said they ultimately settled on maple because of its smooth touch.
Other parts seek to add as much ruggedness as possible, such as knots in the trim of each window, which were tweaked with Stauffer as the project was being built.
“I said I want as much character with the trim,” Trulson said. “The more knots, the better.”