My favorite clubhouse, built in 1959, lasted until 2012.
I grew up in a small town in
, with my older brother and single
working mom. When I was a kid, I built four clubhouses with my friends. We
constantly remodeled them, planted gardens around them, drew up rules, kept
club journals, and spent endless hours hanging out in these places that were
our own. California
Our parents never interfered unless we invited them in for an “inspection”. They trusted us to spend endless hours outside (with no cell phones!) and not maim ourselves with sharp tools. They also seemed pleased that we were doing something constructive and were out from under their feet!
When I wasn’t actually building a clubhouse, I spent a lot of time thinking about clubhouse possibilities. I was inspired by clubhouse-building stories in comic books, a memorable children’s novel, Billy Had a Clubhouse, and the 1923 edition of Audel’s Carpenters and Builders Guides. The Audel books consisted of countless ink diagrams of house-construction details, and very few words! I obsessively drew floor plans, imaginary clubhouses, and our real clubhouses covered in snow or viewed in the future!Our clubhouses were of solid wood (no cardboard), tall enough to stand in and had doors with hinges. I was determined to build them “right” so I learned a lot about carpentry and wound up with some solid structures, one of which stood, more or less intact, for 53 years! I also learned some valuable social skills and other cosmic truths along the way; those things that parents and schools try to teach us, but often to deaf ears. My clubhouse-building finally ended at age 16 when we moved 700 miles away…and my grandfather and I built a bedroom!
I continued to build other shelters after the clubhouses. I still like doing it. I studied architecture briefly in college and learned carpentry ‘on the job’ from three very different but accomplished master carpenters. For several years as a freelance carpenter, I built room additions, cabins and one house for myself; which felt like building a clubhouse all over again, only bigger.
Professionally, I was drawn to visual art, and received a Bachelors Degree in art in 1980, at
I worked as a graphic artist and designer until starting my own freelance art
studio, called Oceans and Dreams, in Western Oregon University in 1990. I continue to
work in watercolor and acrylic, painting ocean waves and seascapes of the West
However, my interest in building small shelters, especially clubhouses, has never diminished. In 1991 I began to write a memoir about my clubhouse experiences, and sought out similar stories from other builders through do-it-yourself homebuilding magazines. I'll share these stories and what I've learned about building clubhouses in this online saga...