Buddy Melvin’s Treehouse
17 years, 16 rooms, 12,000 square feet “for the fellas to hang out.”By Michael E.C. Gery
In 1997, Willie "Buddy" Melvin wanted to build a treehouse on family land outside of Roseboro. "Only, I didn't want a little boy's treehouse." He was 42 years old. With recycled lumber he built a room that wrapped around the base of a water oak. His friends came by to admire it, so he added to it. "Tearing down old houses and tobacco barns, cleaning up the wood, hauling it back here." He expanded it every year "except '02."
By 2014, Buddy Melvin's Treehouse had 16 rooms covering about 12,000 square feet. "Two bathrooms, four bars, two bedrooms, a dance floor, a kitchen. I had a four-hole putt-putt in here at one time." Inside the VIP Bar and Lounge on the second floor you'll see polished wood surfaces, sofas, TVs, twinkling lights, music, easy chairs, a mural, sculptures. From a balcony seat perch "like the Apollo," you look down onto a large dance floor that can accommodate a band or a DJ. You can wander up to the Pool Room to play a round, walls adorned with art and posters (many showing off Livingstone College, Willie's school). You can kick back on the open-air deck. "It's a place for the fellas to hang out."
Or for a birthday party, wedding reception, a family reunion. Plenty of parking out back. Roast a hog, put on a spread, and take your plate up to the wide, elevated screened-in porch that has tables and chairs looking out windows to the lawn.
Over the years, friends and visitors have donated decorations, art, mirrors, furnishings. They've also signed the walls. "The names highlighted are the ones who passed." Pictures show many good times, as well as his mama (in a place of honor), his daddy (a schoolteacher), his granddaddy, and his great-granddaddy (a slave).
Managing and cleaning the Treehouse is almost a full-time job. Willie Melvin's other job is as the in-school suspension facilitator at Roseboro Elementary School. Will he add on to the Treehouse? At 60, Willie says, "I'm done."
See Buddy Nelson’s house on WRAL-TV’s “Tar Heel Traveler.”