In the beginning the world was filled with basic metal swing sets. (Okay, in the beginning of the beginning the backyard playground was a tire suspended by a rope from a tree limb! A little before my time!)
And, of course, in 1937 the backyard playset was built from scratch with lumber from the sawmill and threaded pipe from the hardware store.
Anyway, the metal playground swing was a true kit with factory finished steel tubes and predrilled holes and hardware to assemble it all.
Then came the wood swing set with plastic accessory kits which included instructions for the assembly of the swing set from stock lumber to which the plastic accessories could be attached.
Early in the 1980’s Lowes Lumberyard came up with a unique marketing idea called the Treeless Treehouse. Crude by today’s standards this was a backyard playhouse designed to be built by Dad over the weekend.
What Dad did not realize was the Treeless Treehouse “kit” was really a stack of lumber and a set of blueprints. Somewhat beyond the average Dad’s interest for a two day project.
It mattered not.
This playset so fired the imagination of children and Dads everywhere in Raleigh I was called to build dozens of them over the course of the decade.
Here is one of my earliest Weekender Treehouses, photographed in glorious black and white Polariod.
The era of the Treeless Treehouse was short lived. In my case the peak came in 1988 when I was commissioned to build the “Super Fort” treehouse which took the Lowes concept to extraordinary elaboritidity by an exuberant client who designed his own version from the ground up. (Explained link here)
The ordinary mundane Lowes version was quickly replaced in the 1990’s by a plastic accessory package attached to the same general Treeless Treehouse framework of ordinary lumberyard lumber which was built and drilled and bolted from scratch in the field.
Only now in the 21st Century do we go back to the future with the return of the true “kit” playset. Everything comes in a box from the factory. The lumber is presanded and dressed and stained and the holes are bored and most of the time sufficient fasteners are included to assemble everything without a trip to the hardware store!
What a long strange journey it has been! Call me when you want your adventure with backyard jungle gym playsets to begin! I can help!