Up a tree: Nature Center at Shaker Lakes opens Jimmy’s Treehouse

There’s yet another fun way to get out and enjoy the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes this summer, with the opening of Jimmy’s Treehouse this past Saturday, July 17.

Sitting on stilts and built into the trees—with both a covered house and an open-air deck—Jimmy’s Treehouse is ADA-accessible and overlooks the scenic Stearns Woodland Trail, offering access to nature for people of all ages and abilities.

“This treehouse will provide the Nature Center another outdoor classroom space and will help connect the next generation of kids with nature,” says Nature Center president and CEO Kay Carlson.

The treehouse was designed by Pete Nelson of Fall City, Washington-based Nelson Treehouse—who is best known for the show “Treehouse Masters” on Animal Planet. It is large enough to hold 10 kids and two adults at a time,” says Carlson, and it will be used as a space to give people another perspective of the habitats.

Jimmy’s Treehouse, named after the late James F. Lincoln Jr.—known as “Jimmy” or “Uncle Jimmy” by family and friends—was a playful spirit, who was often heard saying, “The only problem with children is there are not enough of them!” T

he project was made possible thanks to a donation from the Lincoln family and through the Nature Center’s capital campaign, Enhancing Your Outdoor Classroom: Campaign for the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes.

Carlson, who is related to the Lincoln family, grew up experiencing Jimmy’s zest for life.

“Jimmy loved kids and I have fond memories of playing in the treehouse and on the mini roller coaster he built for his kids in his yard,” Carlson recalls. “His daughter, Cathy Lincoln [my cousin] made a leadership gift for the Treehouse, and other members of her family also contributed. Jimmy's late wife, Emma, was very involved with the Nature Center in its early days, serving as treasurer and helping with the fight against the freeway that had been proposed in its place.”

The treehouse is one component of a larger, multi-phase $6.1 million capital campaign to restore and reinvigorate the Nature Center’s outdoor classroom. Additionally, the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation has generously offered to match all campaign gifts of $100 or more, up to $100,000, through August 31.

Currently in its final year, the capital campaign will allow the Nature Center to transform the visitor experience and enhance the property with new, unique features, interpretive elements, and restored native habitats.
The final phase of the campaign includes enhanced neighborhood entrances and a new children’s nature play area. Projects are slated for completion this fall.
Jimmy’s Treehouse is open during normal business hours at the Nature Center, 2600 South Park Boulevard in Shaker Heights.  Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Stearns Woodland Trail and All People's Trails are open year-round from dawn to dusk. 

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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