Lee Wick is Bringing a Smile One Birdhouse at a Time in Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, VA – If you walked past the steps of an unassuming rowhouse on N. Columbus St. over the last two years, were you one of the lucky ones to take ownership of a unique, handcrafted birdhouse?
These colorful birdhouses were built by woodworker Lee Wick, who needed something to keep him busy during the pandemic. Wick settled on birdhouses because he could carry them up the narrow staircase from his cellar workshop. He also did not want his creations to cost him an “arm and a leg” to produce.
Wick started building the little homes in March 2020. Each house took approximately 8 hours to complete due to the precision craftsmanship. As the birdhouses piled up, over 120 so far, Wick, who exudes a kind and generous nature, decided to give them away “as an act of kindness and to share his creations with the community.”
One day he placed a dozen birdhouses on his front steps with a sign, “Free Birdhouses Made During Pandemic; Please Take One.” They were gone in two hours. Days later, Wick placed another dozen on his steps with the same outcome. Neighbors said they would see young couples in deep discussion about which tiny home fit their style.
As Wick continued to give away his work, thank you notes began appearing under his door, expressing gratitude for his kind gesture. People would knock on his door to say, “you made my day!” Wick had no idea he would receive the appreciation but was genuinely touched by the response.
Now Wick’s birdhouses hang far and wide in Alexandria, Washington D.C., Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, and California. They’ve even popped up in Mexico City. A couple from D.C. who were engaged to be married at The Rectory on Princess St. heard about Wick’s generosity and asked if Wick could craft a birdhouse for them as a remembrance of their wedding location. Shortly after the ceremony, the couple took Wick’s wedding present to their new residence in Mexico City.
Wick, originally from Wisconsin, retired 25 years ago as a Mt. Vernon Mental Health Center director. He taught himself woodworking to stay occupied in retirement. Wick’s accomplishments include tables, rocking cradles, 60 finely crafted oak rocking horses of various sizes, and a beautiful oak roll-top desk. In addition, for 13 years he has volunteered his skills by teaching woodworking as therapy to residents at the Crossroads Treatment Centers. Teaching ten residents at a time, he could see their self-confidence grow as their woodworking projects gave them a sense of pride.
Lee Wick and his wife Elaine have lived in Alexandria since 1974. While Lee is in his workshop, Elaine, who retired after being the vice president of Nursing and Patient Services at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center, often volunteers at the Barrett Branch Library. She recently published a middle school fiction book Brave Son, which recounts the struggle between a Spanish conquistador and an Inca king.
Lee Wick says he’ll build birdhouses as long as they bring smiles to the recipients. So if you are ever on N. Columbus St., you may be one of the lucky recipient of a Wick creation.
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