In backyards and driveways and garages across Dallas, the playhouses for Dallas CASA’s Parade of Playhouses are taking shape.

One playhouse looks like a large hunk of cheese. Another celebrates the outdoors with a climbing wall and special windows to view the outside. One is called “Life on Mars.” Some concepts are still evolving.

But all represent hope for abused and neglected children in Dallas.

For the past 21 years, generous corporations, organizations, builders and architects have designed, built and donated children’s playhouses to benefit the abused children served by Dallas CASA. This year’s playhouses – 15 at last count – will move into NorthPark Center for display July 15 to 31. Raffle tickets to win a playhouse will be sold online and at tables at NorthPark, and the winning raffle tickets will be drawn on the last day of the event. All proceeds from the event benefit Dallas CASA.

For longtime playhouse designer Amy Butscher, the creative design process is something she looks forward to all year. She and her brother Reed, owner of a construction company, are building their tenth house together this year and have chosen a steampunk theme.

“Basically, I dictate to Reed what to do, and he rolls his eyes and says ‘Are you kidding me?’” Amy said. “Then before we know it, the house is framed and we’re both in love with it.”

Over time, other Butscher siblings have found themselves drawn into the project, which Amy and Reed typically build in Reed’s Wylie backyard just a mile from his sister’s house. For their “Up” house two years ago, they invited their large family over, handed each one a paintbrush with different colors and told them to get to work. The resulting multi-color house was a family favorite.

Bob Borson, a longtime friend of Dallas CASA and local architect, has led a playhouse design competition on his blog for several years. This year, he collaborated with Houzz and five winning houses will be built from the entries. Borson’s panel of judges always includes children, who Borson says don’t think about budget or safety or constructability. For kids, the only test is the fun they will have.

“Grown-ups are the guests in these spaces; they have to be invited in,” he said. “No question these houses are kids’ domain. Kids are taking ownership of something not on a shelf or tabletop – it’s a building. It’s a building for play, for sleepovers and campouts, for imagination and role-playing.”

Join us to see the playhouses yourself July 15. Buy a raffle ticket and try to win a playhouse. Come view the playhouses and be a part of Dallas CASA’s dream of finding a safe, permanent and loving home for every abused or neglected child in protective care in Dallas.