Tree Branch Brings an End to Arty Treehouse

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

In early August, a powerful storm swept through the area causing a tree branch to fall and bring an end to a unique addition to Swarthmore’s campus. Jonathan Molloy ‘14, for his senior thesis, had constructed a cabin to serve as an oasis that captured the natural essence of Swarthmore’s campus.  It is a structure designed to converge artistic expression, architecture, and environmental consciousness into a single medium.

The cabin, titled “Oxbow on the Crum,” is situated on the top of a hill overlooking the Crum Woods and Creek.  It has a slanted roof with several windows offering views on three sides. The structure lost some paneling and sustained significant damage to one side of its roof during the storm.

Molloy, with the help of student volunteers and facilities staff here at Swarthmore, had constructed a cabin facing the woods next to The Matchbox with the intention of providing a space for students to enjoy the Crum Woods. Studio art professor Randall Exon, Molloy’s thesis advisor, wrote that the cabin “was designed for a single student to enjoy the beauty of our neighboring woods and stream.”

Not only was the space intended to integrate students with their surroundings, but its materials were sourced sustainably in the spirit of environmental preservation. Exon added that “it was made with reclaimed wood from the old squash courts before the Matchbox.  The slate for the roof also came from the college store of old materials from past projects.” This demonstrates the compatibility of Molloy’s piece with the surroundings of the Crum.  This piece celebrates nature while employing materials that embrace standards of environmental consciousness.

While it is a shame that such an amazing space was damaged, efforts to harness the natural beauty of Swarthmore’s campus do well for enhancing student experiences at the college. Structures such as Molloy’s serve as an outlet for students to immerse themselves in the surrounding environment, and hopefully, future projects will cultivate this culture here at Swarthmore.

“Oxbow on the Crum” can be found immediately adjacent to the Matchbox next to the construction trailers for SEPTA.

Featured image courtesy of Swarthmore College Bulletin

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