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Not an average playhouse

August 6, 2011
By Kelly Fosness ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

LAKE LINDEN - Paul Perreault's backyard playhouse is anything but ordinary.

Standing 5 feet off the ground on stilts, the wooden structure, at first glance, appears to be the scene of a mid-air boat crash, and that's exactly what he intended.

"I was going through online looking at tree houses to build for my grandkids and I came across one where they had a race car coming through a garage and that got me thinking," Perreault said. "Then, my son-in-law had this perfectly good speedboat on his property. He had no use for it so he gave it to me."

Article Photos

Daily Mining Gazette/Kelly Fosness
Ashley Colombe, 14, and her brother Keith Colombe, 8, dangling from the rope swing, enjoy the playhouse their grandfather built for them and their siblings at his home in Lake Linden.

Perreault, noting he's not big on fishing and doesn't waterski, said he took the boat home and sawed it in half. The tricky part was figuring out how to mount each half to the framework to make it look freestanding.

"I called a guy I know who has a crane and asked him if he could come over and put a boat up on stilts," he said. "So he came over here and when he looked at it in halves he started laughing."

They secured the bow facing Maple Sugar Hill Road, where Perreault lives just outside Lake Linden, and placed the stern at the back side of the playhouse.

"Once I got them up there, I drilled through the bottom of the boat, through the bottom of the channel iron and I bolted it on like that," he said. "Afterwards I asked him how much I owed, expecting a bill, and he said 'Five bucks.'"

The boathouse playhouse has been a project in the works for Perreault for the past three years, as he's constantly adding new features and nautical themed artifacts. Like the wooden "Day old fish 1/2 off" sign and the red and white life-ring mounted near the entrance, many of the decorations are handmade by Perreault.

"In fact, the shingles on the roof I made myself, too," he said.

To get up inside, Perreault attached a wooden ladder to the frame near the bow of the boat. Opposite the ladder on the other side of the playhouse is a rope swing.

A world map decorates one of the walls inside the playhouse, which Perreault estimated was at least 6 feet tall because he could stand up inside it.

Plastic crates served as seats behind the steering wheel of the boat and eventually, Perreault said he'll hook up electricity to get the running lights working.

"Once I get that, I'd like to get the radio to work, too," he said.

Beneath the playhouse is a picnic table where Perreault's five grandchildren were enjoying soda during a July 28 visit.

"I like the rope swing the best," 8-year-old Keith Colombe said. "You can swing on it and climb it."

Keith's brother, Trevor, 9, said it was "cool" that their grandfather built the playhouse for them.

For a woodworker like Perreault, building playhouses is something he's been doing since he was a kid - only the boathouse tops them all.

"This is probably the wildest design I've been working with," he said, adding he's in the process of building a woodshop to look like a log cabin in his backyard. "Last year for the Copper Country Humane Society Bash I built an extreme dog house as a donation."

The extreme feature, he said, was the set of stairs leading to a sunroof on the top.

Down the road, Perreault said he wants to build a playhouse in the back of a fire truck.

"Being on the (American) Red Cross, it just seems like the appropriate truck," he said. "What a blast that would be to pull up to a kid's birthday party with it."

As for the boat, which Perreault named Miss-ed Directed, "because it's going through the playhouse," its traveling days are over.



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