Mystery patio set possibly made from fallen tree turns up on Woodley Park porch

November 1, 2012

Superstorm Sandy claimed more than 150 lives and countless homes as it rampaged through the Caribbean and up along the Eastern Seaboard. But amid the damage and destruction have emerged stories of small and large kindnesses.

Store owners handing out food, those with power allowing neighbors to charge dying cell phones.

Now comes the tale of a truly unexpected gift — patio furniture.

The wind and rain that accompanied Sandy as the storm moved through the Washington region Monday brought down a tree in front of Samantha Friedman’s home in Woodley Park. It landed on an unoccupied car and blocked Cathedral Avenue.

On Tuesday, Friedman returned home from work to find the tree gone from the street and her yard. In its place and on her front porch were a table and four stools, made from what she believes was the toppled tree. Cups, saucers and teapot had been placed on top.


Woodley Park resident Samantha Friedman found a tea set on top of a wooden table and chairs on her porch Oct. 30. She believes they were made from a tree that fell in her front yard during Hurricane Sandy Oct. 29, but has not been able to determine who left the gift. (Samantha Friedman)

Friedman posted a picture of the new setup on her blog 26minus5 with the caption: “Looks like the city of D.C. left us a present when they removed the tree fallen from Sandy’s winds. The table, chairs AND the tea set appeared on my front porch when I got home from work yesterday.”

The photo spread online when NBC4 Washington featured before and after pictures of the incident on its Facebook page.

But here’s the thing: D.C. Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle said the unfinished wooden furniture is not the work of the Urban Forestry Administration, which oversees government tree cleanup in the District.

“I don’t think we had anything to do with it, or at least, that’s the answer we got when we circulated the picture to staff,” Lisle said. “I think our crews are a little bit too busy to be stopping and making tables for people.”

Friedman, 29, e-mailed the neighborhood listserv in search of the furniture’s creator. A few people offered to buy the stumps, but she declined.

“I didn’t create it, and I don’t feel like I own it. I don’t feel like it’s mine to be selling,” Friedman said.

Most people responded in appreciation of what they saw as a bright spot in the aftermath of the superstorm, she said. But no one knows who the “hurricane fairy” might be.


A fallen tree lies across Cathedral Avenue after Hurricane Sandy toppled it Oct. 29. (Samantha Friedman)

“I wish I knew who made it so they could get the credit,” she said.

Friedman has decided to keep her new porch set. Whoever did it intended to leave it there, she said.

“It’s very quirky and adds this welcoming environment to the front porch,” she said. “It’s a very cute little mystery.”

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