These vintage playhouses & forts from your childhood are beyond adorable (1950s-1980s)

Vintage play houses and forts Old-fashioned fun for kids

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These vintage playhouses & forts were super fun for 20th century kids

Remember having fun in retro playhouses & forts when you were a kid? Nothing beat the possibilities for pretend fun offered by these structures!

Playhouses started off simple, often built at home with care and available materials. As time went on, especially around the mid-20th century, they became more complex. Companies began manufacturing them in various styles from quaint cottages to whimsical castles.

The 1950s and 60s brought a surge in creativity and design, reflecting the optimistic spirit of those times. Various materials from tent canvas to cardboard or even lumber were used for both temporary and more permanent placement. 

The 1970s and 80s marked a period when vintage playhouses became an even more common sight in many yards, featuring bright colors and cool themes. This was a time when these miniature homes reached new heights in design and fun — and sturdy plastic mini-domains were increasingly common.

We’ve collected ads for a wide range of playhouse options that were available from the 1950s through the 80s. Did you have one of these vintage playhouses as a child? Check out these classic designs and see if you recognize any styles from your own childhood!

‘Small Fry’ drive-in restaurant vintage playhouse (1957)

Bright new ideas in hot-weather housing promises hours of safe summer fun for children. All these streamlined summerhouses are sturdily built of lightweight materials, can be put up or down in minutes, on the lawn or on a concrete floor, as you prefer.

Sides are screened to let in breezes, keep out pesky insects. Tent cloth tops, in festive carnival colors, supply overhead protection. Playhouses fold conveniently flat into compact packages that are equally handy to store or take on trips.

VINTAGE DRIVE-IN: All children love playing store — think of the fun they’ll have with this miniature drive-in, complete with pass-through window, plastic-screened window and door. 

Retro Small Fry drive-in restaurant play house for kids from the 50s

Spaceship playhouse (1957)

Six-sided spaceship boasts bold colors all youngsters enjoy. The see-through plastic top adds to the fun, is sure to appeal to imaginative little boys taking make-believe trips to the moon.

Spaceship fort - playhouse from 1957

Cute pink retro playhouse (1957)

1-2-3, and all children’s houses are ready for play!

Light framework of metal rods is the basis of all little houses. No stakes are needed, so the frame can be erected on a concrete drive or in a basement play area.

Covers of children’s playhouses are tent canvas — slip over the framework as easily as a pillowcase. The screen is one side is transparent plastic mesh, sewed right to cloth. Scalloped awning turns rear into a terrace.

Cute pink playhouse for kids from the 1950s

Just those two simple steps. and the playhouse is ready for fun. The inside dimensions provide generous standing and sitting room for two youngsters.

Cute pink playhouse for kids from the 1950s (2)

1950s Nabisco market vintage playhouse

Vintage 50s Nabisco market playhouse (1954)



A house to play in and a mountain to climb — all in your backyard (1961)

This playhouse is guaranteed to have a swarm of kids in, on, and around it all day long, every day.

If you don’t have a saber saw, rent one for half a day to cut out this house. Clamp two sheets of 1/2-inch plywood together and cut both at once as shown in the cutting diagram.

Use a dowel to peg the circle cutout from the door over the peak of the house. Use loose pin hinges on all joints, including the four half panels.

Backyard climbing structure idea from 1961 (2)

Backyard climbing structure idea from 1961 (1)

Wood stockade-style pup tent playhouse (1963)

Sturdy shelter for youngster’s playtime. Kit includes fence sections, lumber, nails, instructions.

Wood stockade-style pup tent playhouse from the 60s

Toy House shed (1967)

Build a lot of enjoyment into your garden — a cozy, sheltered spot for a just-for-fun playhouse for the children. Here are some garden structures that can be the focal points of your family’s summer entertainment.

A combination toy storage-play house keeps playthings out of the garden (and the house). Decorative trim, cupola, window boxes and shutters make the little house all the more enjoyable.

Toy storage playhouse idea from the sixties

2-story diamond-shaped vintage playhouse (1967)

For the sub-ten homemaker, this little garden cottage is ideal. Here she can practice the rudiments of house keeping and have great fun in the process. House features second floor that extends across half the interior. Children especially like the candy-stripe exterior.

MORE: See this adorable vintage-style two-story backyard playhouse from the ’60s

Vintage barn-style playhouse from the 1960s

Treehouse ‘ship’ with deck (1967)

You can build your children a tree house even if there isn’t a tree in sight. This one takes the shape of a ship that floats in the sky to permit seaworthy chaps to become Admiral Nelson or Captain Kidd for endless hours of fun.

Enclose the open deck with a sturdy, high railing for safety, and you’re ready for the first mutiny.

Deck treehouse ship play area for kids - Retro backyard idea

Old-fashioned treehouses: See 20 fun forts built up in the branches

Retro cardboard playhouse/fort for kids (1967)

Retro cardboard play house for kids from 1967

Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse with Working Door, Windows, and Shutters - Tan, Toddlers Ages 2+...
  • The Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse - Tan has a sleek, modern style that you and your kids will both love
  • Features a working door, windows and shutters
  • Easy to assemble and take apart with minimal hassle and tools (tools not included)
Bankers Box at Play Unicorn Playhouse, Cardboard Playhouse and Craft Activity for Kids
  • Color Your House: Your child can decorate their Unicorn Playhouse in any way they want with markers, crayons, or paint, allowing them to exercise their creativity
  • Strong and Safe Construction: 32-ECT corrugated board with kid-friendly rounded edges provides strength and safety for hours of play. Lead-free design is F963 Standard Consumer Safety Specification...
  • Easy 2-Piece Assembly: Playhouse easily folds up and breaks down for storage. Follow the simple instructions to create your 38" L x 32" W x 48" H playhouse
Step2 Happy Home Cottage & Grill Kids Playhouse, Blue
  • Large, open concept playhouse allows for mom or dad to keep a watchful eye!
  • Playhouse features a working doorbell, dutch-style door and a fun pass-through mail slot
  • Kids playhouse features a built-in floor (with drain holes) to help keep little ones clean and the mud out!
Easy Playhouse Fairy Tale Castle - Kids Art and Craft for Indoor and Outdoor Fun, Color, Draw,...
  • Personalize Your Castle: Your Child Can Color And Customize Their Castle, Bringing A Favorite Magical Dragon To Life (Fire) And A Queen (Your Highness). Can The Cute Little Mouse Be Found? Use...
  • Enjoy Role Playing With This Cardboard Fort Don'T Forget To Invite Your Friends Over To Defend The Castle, Have A Royal Party, Or Race Around Playing Tag. This Can Also Be A Great Group Activity For...
  • Windows, Doors & Mail Delivery - Ding Ding Insert Mail Through The Windows From The Outside Or Push The Mail Out From Inside The House Too Or Leave In Front Of The Castle Door It Is Always Fun To Give...
FoxPrint Princess Castle Play Tent with Glow in the Dark Stars Folds in Carrying Case Foldable Pop...
  • Enhances creativity and imagination. The best 2 + year old girl or boy toy in the market. It provides comfortable shelter for outdoor trips. It includes sturdy shock-corded fiberglass poles. No...
  • Great for a backyard adventure: your child will have hours of fun with this colorful play tent decorated with hearts and glow-in-the-dark-stars pop it up in the backyard
  • Encourages motor skill development and open, imaginative play

Retro 60s triangle piece fort playhouse (1969)

Retro 60s triangle piece fort playhouse (1969)


Multi-level playhouse design plan (1971)

Fun never stops in this multi-level playhouse. It has four separate levels linked by steps and ladders (see floor plan 1A). Children never tire of exploring the ins and outs of the various entries, decks and ladders.

The playhouse is basically an eight-foot cube made from 11-1/2 sheets of 4×8-foot 3/4-inch plywood. Concrete blocks form steps and corner supports.

Multi-level playhouse design

Minimalist style 70s playhouse and storage space

Both you and your youngsters have a stake in this sturdy unit. At one end, it’s a double-entry playhouse; at the other, it’s a spacious storage compartment for your lawn and garden equipment. Padlocked doors on the storage section keep children away from dangerous tools and chemicals. The entire structure is made with texture 1-11 plywood, stained ash gray.

Minimalist style 70s playhouse and storage space

Wooden combo play loft and backyard storage (1971)

It looks like a mountain fire-watch tower, but this rugged structure is really a combination play loft and storage area. A ladder at the far end leads to the loft, which is sheltered by a plywood roof. Below, there’s a lockable storage compartment for your tools and outdoor accessories. Support posts made from 4x4s are set into concrete; storage doors are lx6s with redwood siding laid over.

Combination play loft and storage area (1971)

Winnie the Pooh vinyl indoor playhouse (1973)

Red Winnie the Pooh tent (1973)

Backyard fort playhouse gym idea from 1975

Backyard fort playhouse gym idea from 1975

Holly Hobbie playhouse (1976)

MORE: Vintage Holly Hobbie toys, clothes, decor & more from the ’70s & ’80s

Holly Hobbie play house (1976)

Quilted playhouse/fort (1979)

Here’s a delightful kid-sized cottage that’s a beauty to behold, and its flakeboard shell is designed for easy building and moving.

Quilt batting is glued to the shell with a layer of calico tacked on top. Each padded shingle is stitched separately, then stapled in place. Uncovered surfaces are painted with enamel.

Quilted playhouse idea from 1979

Little Tikes Play House (1983)

Little Tikes Play House gives children a special place of their very own, as complete inside with a drop-leaf table and telephone as it is outside with a door and shutters that really work.

All to put big smiles on little faces. And you’ll smile at our sturdy double wall construction and our promise to stand behind it. At Little Tikes, we try to build smiles into all our toys. For the little people who play with them. For the big ones who buy them.

Little Tikes Play House (1983)

ALSO SEE: Vintage play kitchens: Toys for budding chefs from the ’80s & ’90s

Gym-Dandy Star Wars Scout walker command tower play set (1984)

Branded with “Return of the Jedi”

Gym-Dandy Scout walker command tower with Speeder bike rider play set (1984)

Rustic cedar fort-playhouse (1985)

Cozy playhouse is prefabricated in 6 easy-to-assemble sections of white cedarwood slabs. Wood floor. A hammer (not included) is the only tool needed for assembly.

Large cabin has door and window shutters, measures 7x5x6 feet high (350 pounds). Medium cabin has door and window openings, measures 5x4x5 feet high (200 pounds).

Rustic cedar wood fort - playhouse from 1985

A ride-on horse playhouse (1986)

MORE: Wonder horses! See vintage ride-on spring horse toys from the ’50s to the ’80s

A ride-on horse playhouse  (1986)

Coleco ‘Cabbage Patch Kids’ Club House (1986)

The Cabbage Patch Kids Club House is big enough for the whole gang. Dutch door and side window shutters open and close. And inside there’s even a play phone, clock, and drop-leaf table.

Coleco Cabbage Patch Kids Club House (1986)

Fisher-Price Pop-Up Playhouse (1988)

Vintage Fisher-Price Pop-Up Playhouse (1988)

Playskool Sesame Street Clubhouse (1989)

ALSO SEE: Swinging Sesame Street debuted in 1969 – Here’s a look back!

Playskool Sesame Street Clubhouse (1989)

Vintage playhouse throwbacks!

Going back a little further in the 20th century, this cozy little cabin was created under the landing of an outdoor wooden staircase in the 1920s.

MORE: 62 beautiful vintage home designs & floor plans from the 1920s

Child's playhouse attached to home from the 1920s

JACKbilt vintage playhouses & forts for kids (1933)

Vintage antique Jackbilt playhouses and forts for kids (1933)

USA Toyz Rocket Ship Pop Up Kids Tent - Spaceship Rocket Indoor Playhouse Tent for Boys and Girls...
  • Rocket Spaceship KidsTent: Give kids their very own private playroom while learning more about the outer space with this rocketship play house tent for kids; the included space projector toy includes...
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Twinkle Star 55"x 53" Princess Castle Play Tent for Girls Playhouse with 138 LED Star String Lights...
  • Princess Castle Play Tent: 55"x53" Large size, providing a private and relaxed space for children, allowed 3 kids playing at the same time.
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  • Extra Star Lights: Package with star string lights which perfect decor and light our high quality castle playhouse at night.
Alvantor Kids Tents Children Play Tent Toddler Pop Up Tent For Kids Boys Girls Toys Indoor Outdoor...
  • ★Vibrant Muti-Coloured Kids Tent catch your kids eyes at first sight. In this toy tent, your little ones can play by themselves for hours, which give yourself some time for relax.
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Rocket Ship Play Tent for Kids | Spaceship Toys and Forts for Boys and Girls | Imaginative Indoor...
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Wonder Space Children Play House Tent - Khaki Beige Natural Fabric Canvas Large Lace Pom Playhouse...
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  • Durable canvas. All seams, raw fabric edges and openings are reinforced for your Child's Safety, Durability and Years of Play.

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