Compared to the neighbors' it may not be much, but Amy Carter calls it "home."
Yesterday, the White House confirmed that President and Mrs. Carter's 9-year-old daughter took possession of her much-publicized tree house a week ago, while nobody was looking but the birds.
Designed by a "moonlighting" architect (her father) the structure is more a platform than a house, rising about five feet above ground in the shade of an Atlas Cedar on the South Lawn of the White House.
Resting on four posts sunk in the ground (rather than attached to the 40-foot tall tree), the platform measures 5 feet by 4 feet, is rimmed by a 5-inch high wooden lip and was built of "inexpensive" lumber ("not redwood," said one source) by a White House carpenter.
To enter, apparently, one must climb the tree.
That takes care of the so-called specifications.
Esthetically, it has been stained to blend with the surroundings, can't be seen from the street and, as hideaways go remains true to the grand old tradition of White House tree houses that includes the one John F. Kennedy had built for his daughter, Caroline.
That, too, was a platform but with a ladder for entry and a slide for quick exit. Visible from the Oval Office, Dad could keep an eye on the occupants who often included Caroline's nursery school classmates.
"It wasn't a fancy thing," retired White House Chief Usher J.B. West recalled. "And we didn't ask anybody anything - we just put it up."
If that got Caroline's father in trouble (and it is doubtful that it did) it probably wasn't anything like the trouble Amy's Dad got in over a tree house back in Plains, Ga.
People there still tell about how the worst licking Jimmy Carter ever got was when he slipped out of bed one night, climbed the pecan tree where he had his house and refused to answer when his parents called him to come home.
"When located and forced back to reality with a peachtree switch," according to one source, "he got one of the major defeats of his life."
All of which may be to Jimmy Carter folklore someday what the cherry tree was to George Washington's.
So far, according to Rosalynn Carter's Deputy Press Secretary Ann Anderson, no one's given Amy a tree warming.