Friday, September 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Whatever happened to that treehouse on Walters Road?

Tree house

Glen Gaviglio poses near his treehouse, left, and a picture from the LA Times in 1979 (click photo to view gallery)

By
From page A2 | July 11, 2014 |

I don’t remember the first time I saw the four-story treehouse on Walters Road. It was probably in the mid-1970s, because part of the bus route to Grange Intermediate School was on the then two-lane road.

I do recall quite clearly, however, the first time I got to go inside the treehouse. It was in 1982, when I was taking a sociology class at Solano Community College taught by the treehouse’s builder/owner, Glen Gaviglio.

He would often invite us to treehouse parties after class. I remember the thrill of walking up the staircase to his house among a grove of enormous eucalyptus trees.

Gaviglio, now 72 and retired, was a professor at Solano College for 37 years, then taught online classes for 10 years after retiring. I called him out of the blue a couple of weeks ago to get a quote for an article and inquired about his treehouse. He had continued to add on to it since the last time I had been there, but has now retired not only from teaching, but also from building.

The idea for the treehouse started with a student at Solano College in 1973.

“I had a crazy hippie friend named Rocky who lived in a bus he’d converted into a place to live and he said, ‘You know, you should build a treehouse and I know where we can get some wood,’ ” Gaviglio said. “We went to the Vallejo docks and got salvage wood. Rocky had a rack on top of his bus and he made a tripod with a pulley on it, so we could pulley up 16-foot-long telephone poles.”

The idea was for the treehouse to just be one room, but Gaviglio, who had always been fascinated with construction, soon became an obsessive builder.

By 1979, Gaviglio’s treehouse sat on five eucalyptus trees and 19 pilings. His creation was featured in newspapers from Los Angeles to St. Petersburg. Fla. There was also a blurb titled “Me Tarzan, You Wipe Your Feet” in the December 1980 issue of Popular Mechanics.

At that time, the treehouse featured 11 rooms, sliding glass doors, curved stairways and a sunken fireplace. Since it was anchored to trees, when the wind blew, it would move and creak like a ship.

While many were impressed with Gaviglio’s treetop dwelling, the Solano County Planning Department was not. One day, a seven-man delegation showed up on Gaviglio’s two-and-a-half-acre lot and told the professor that he was in violation of building codes.

‘The planning department said I could only have one residence on my property. I had a house and the treehouse was also a house. The choices were to rip out the kitchen in the treehouse or move the house. So I moved the house to the other side of Fairfield and sold it. It’s still there on Hamilton Drive near the DMV.”

In 2002, the nearly 600 homes in the Peterson Ranch subdivision began construction and Gaviglio refused to sell his land. So they built around him. Since his property stretched out westward onto what is now the four-lane Walters Road, he was given two parcels in compensation.

His house for nearly 30 years was on unincorporated county land, but is now in Suisun City at the end of the cul-de-sac on Fort Ord Court (no trespassing signs are posted).

When re-visiting the treehouse after 30-plus years, one new feature stood out: the elevator. It is about the size of a large closet with accordion doors on either side. Once reaching the top floor and opening the door, only one word suffices: Wowzers.

The rather rustic and seemingly haphazard exterior of the treehouse only amplified the stunning beauty of its ultramodern interior. The hardwood floors, granite countertops, stained glass windows and decorative skylights are absolutely breathtaking.

Gaviglio’s treehouse is complete with all the latest amenities, including a mancave with the requisite comfy chair, huge TV and video games like Assassin’s Creed.

When he built the elevator, the city had him get a structural engineer to inspect his place. It is now not attached to eucalyptus trees, but firmly embedded in concrete. As for sturdiness?

“It can withstand 85 mph winds and an earthquake,” Gaviglio said.

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at toekneeweighed@gmail.com.

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 13 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • 2realJuly 11, 2014 - 5:35 am

    Its still there. They just built peterson ranch around it.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tony WadeJuly 11, 2014 - 7:52 am

    Well, yeah. That is what the column is about.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • GinaJuly 11, 2014 - 12:16 pm

    2real..... Do you read anything from start to finish or do you just assume? this is one big reason everyone does not take you serious, this post above alone PROVES why. Please do us all a favor and not post anymore from your problem filled life.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • AngelaJuly 11, 2014 - 10:08 am

    Great article. I so remember that tree house. Nice to know it's still there.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • RhondaJuly 11, 2014 - 12:01 pm

    I've driven by it every day for the last 24 years. Never had the opportunity to see the inside, but still amazed by the creativeness of the exterior. I drive down the cul-de-sac once or twice a year just to drool at what I can still see without invading privacy.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Floyd GambleJuly 11, 2014 - 12:17 pm

    Thank you, T.W., I've thought about that treehouse over the years, and wondered what had happened to it! Great article! I'll be checking it out ASAP, just so curiosity don't kill this cat! BTW, is it accessible?!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tony WadeJuly 11, 2014 - 12:23 pm

    Well, it's his house. Glen was very open and gracious and we sat for a while and talked about social issues in the mancave after the tour. While I took his class years ago there was no reason for him to remember me and he didn't, but he and his house is rather unforgettable. So, yes, he is a down-to-earth guy, but it's not like there is a doorbell from the end of the cul-de-sac where the "No Trespassing" signs are located.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • 2realJuly 11, 2014 - 3:51 pm

    Gina i was being sarcastic so maybe u didnt get the memo. Think twice before u comment

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Shanna WieserJuly 11, 2014 - 6:01 pm

    Wow! Thank you Mr. Wade for the article and pics. I have always wondered about the treehouse. It is beautiful. Thanks for sharing to the owner.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • B JJuly 11, 2014 - 11:42 pm

    Thanks Tony for updating us on this tree house. Just wish I could see the inside, will definitely be checking it out.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tony WadeJuly 12, 2014 - 7:25 am

    Well, if you click the picture on this article you can access some of the pictures I took of the inside.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • John RosenbergerJuly 12, 2014 - 3:03 pm

    Great article, too funny: my wife and I had just watched that reality show 'master treehouse builder' (or something like that) on animal planet last night and we both turned to each other and said 'what ever happened to....?! Like a lot of people, she had taken Glenn's class, and I had actually taken a water sample at the house as part of my job working for the irrigation district many years ago, for state required monthly water quality monitoring regs. Thanks for the memories and the great update Tony!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • B JJuly 13, 2014 - 7:00 pm

    Tony I did see the pics. Just wish i could see it in person to see the whole experience that you got to have.thanks for great story. I remember when I was on travis driving to suisun we would stop on the side of the road at see that tree house and just awww about how lucky he was to live there. Thanks again tony.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Shelter uses technology to reunite pets, owners

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Weekend full of jazz on tap in Vacaville

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Royal Tailor plans high-energy, genre-blending show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Missouri Street Theatre set to open ‘Bonnie and Clyde’

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
 
Fairfield police arrest 2 in robberies investigation

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 10 Comments | Gallery

Police make child molestation arrest

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Dignitaries celebrate opening of $30M courthouse

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Men, again, are seen as missing in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 5 Comments | Gallery

Stolen vehicle investigation leads to 3 arrests

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Police seek help to find missing Fairfield man

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Fairfield eyes sale of excess government land

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Weather for Sept. 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

.

US / World

Strong Senate vote for Obama on Syria rebel aid

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Scots reject independence in historic vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Man arrested in fast-growing California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Passenger says JetBlue plane filled with smoke

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Law makes earthquake insurance more understandable

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
GOP pushes diverse candidates, but will it matter?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Boxer indicates big decision to come next year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Father arrested in fatal stabbing of 6-year-old

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Health exchange addresses dropped policies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
UC system plan calls for anti-sex abuse effort

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Democratic state lawmaker arraigned on DUI charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
PG&E emails may have violated rules, judge says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

500 Berkeley students missed sex abuse classes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
In wake of beheadings, Busch Gardens removes props

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Trooper ambush suspect added to most wanted list

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
CDC tells healthy adults not to forget flu vaccine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Border Patrol to test wearing cameras

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Kansas court: Remove Democrat from Senate ballot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Ukraine’s pleas for lethal aid from US go unmet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Sheriff: Fla. man kills 6 grandchildren, daughter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Couple in Craigslist slaying sentenced to life

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Series of attacks kills at least 36 in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Sierra Leone to shut down for 3 days to slow Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
British hostage appears in new video

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Witness: 21 killed by Mexico army had surrendered

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Militant gains illustrate plight of Syrian Kurds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
Did the ‘War on Poverty’ fail?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11

 
Do you feel more secure?

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

My support for anyone but Moy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 16 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Sept. 19, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Mother-in-law bothers me at work for kid’s minor infractions

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Sept. 19-25, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: ‘Leave You’ has A-list cast, B-grade result

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Adam Driver shifts into hyper drive

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2

Peter Fonda’s ‘Easy Rider’ bike going to auction

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
‘The Voice’ winner goes to Broadway’s ‘Pippin’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

TV Guide Network renaming itself POP

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment calendar Sept. 19, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B4

Darrell Hammond takes over for Don Pardo on ‘SNL’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
The Roosevelt trail, from Maine to North Dakota

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Nashville new home for Athletics’ Triple-A team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
 
Vanden volleyball team remains undefeated in SCAC play

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7

 
49ers’ Derek Carrier ready to step in at tight end

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

Raiders seek ways to get Reece more involved

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Athletics out of top wild-card spot as Texas sweeps

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Falcons romp to 56-14 win over hapless Buccaneers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
2-time Grand Slam winner Li Na retires from tour

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Stacy Lewis, Mi Jung Hur share LPGA lead in Alabama

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
WR Simpson, in more trouble, released by Vikings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Royal & Ancient votes to admit female members

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
MLS says Chivas USA might not play in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Tiger Woods says he might coach himself

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Police: Cardinals RB Dwyer head-butted wife

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Signups for Friday, Sept. 19, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

 
Appeals court reconsidering Barry Bonds conviction

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

Prep football capsules: Week 3

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Nissan’s small car excels at affordability

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Self-driving cars now need a permit in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

Alibaba prices IPO at $68 per share

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

 
Home Depot says malware affected 56M payment cards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Applications for US jobless benefits fall sharply

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

 
Apple locks itself out of devices with passwords

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Alibaba’s plan: Today, China. Tomorrow, the world.

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Chevron meets new, voluntary shale drilling rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Ellison gives up Oracle CEO role, becomes chairman

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
California bill increases Hollywood tax credits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Fed keeps rates low, but brace for the inevitable

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Mae Frances Jones

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9