Beasley building elaborate tree house for sons

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 20, 2009

NATCHEZ — Judson Beasley knew he wanted a tree house, and he knew what he wanted it to look like.

So the 6-year-old first grader at Cathedral Elementary School put marker to paper and drew up the plans for his dream tree house.

Seeing the picture his son had drawn, father Ken Beasley Jr. knew the time had come to make his son’s wish for a tree house a reality.

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“He had been asking for one for sometime,” Ken said. “He had bugged me about it, but when he drew that picture, I knew it was something I had to do for him.”

For the past three months, Ken has spent nearly all of his spare time working on the project — with the assistance of family and friends — that is more than just a traditional tree house.

The structure, built 8 feet off the ground and surrounded on three sides with a deck, is 16-feet tall from floor to roof peak, has a sleeping loft, is wired for electricity and surround sound and even has a water spout for running water.

“(Judson) doesn’t care about all the extras,” Ken said. “He just wanted somewhere to play. The extras are something I wanted to do for him so he could enjoy it more.”

Judson will be sharing the play space with 3-year-old brother Hayden.

“Two or three months before we even started building, Judson was already asking when it was going to be done,” Ken said. “(Judson) has been telling everyone (I know), because I’ve been asked by people all around town how the project is coming.”

Ken, who admittedly is only an amateur carpenter, said the most difficult and time-consuming part of the project was installing the footers to make sure the structure was stable for years of uses by little boys.

“I did a lot of research on the Internet to find out exactly how to do that,” Ken said. “I’d never built a building off the ground, much less 8-feet off the ground.

“But its not going anywhere now.”

The footers were placed three feet in the ground with concrete and then reinforced with beams.

After the base was firmly in place, the real building started. The tree house, which is 12-feet by 14-feet on the inside, looks much bigger because of the porch that surrounds it.

The outside and inside walls of the tree house are covered with pieces of wood that have been rounded to look like logs.

There are windows on all sides and the roof hangs over the porch “I’m not a real carpenter,” Ken said. “So the bottom is almost perfectly square, but the top, the actual tree house part, it is perfect.”

That’s because Ken brought in help from the outside in the form of family friend Daylon Hicks.

Hicks has spent much of the last month helping Ken frame the house and install insulation and siding.

Ken has also had help from Judson and Hayden’s grandfathers, Ken Beasley Sr. and Randy Johnson.

“It has been a real neat experience to have everyone out here,” Ken said. “And the kids, they’ve been out here every step of the way.

“In the three months since we’ve been working on this, they have spent more time outdoors than ever before.”

They have spent that time helping their dad find tools and measure, and Judson has even tried his hand at hamming in a few nails.

“The hammer is my favorite because you can hit things and nail things,” Judson said.

Ken said at times Judson and Hayden have misplaced hammers, screwdrivers and pencils, but he wouldn’t trade anything for the time spent with his sons.

“It has been an enjoyable experience, more so than I expected,” Ken said. “Yeah, they are out here and wanting to help, but I’m doing it for them so it is worth the lost pencil or broken tool to see them enjoy it.”

Ken is sure that the house will be the center of many memories for the boys and for the rest of his family. He said while the project began as a gift for Judson and Hayden it has turned into gift for the entire family.

“I can see all of us spending a lot of time out here just watching movies and spending time together,” Ken said. “It is a place for the kids and adults to be together, too.”

Ken hopes to have the project completed in time for Christmas since Judson has asked Santa for a few accessories for his new tree house.

“I’m going to bring all my new toys out here,” Judson said. “And I asked Santa for a Wii to go out here, too.”