It looks downright dangerous … yet its creator claims it is divinely inspired by a vision he received in which he was told to begin building a tree house for which he would never run out of materials. 15 years, 10,000 square feet and 250,000 nails and a lot of scrap wood later, this amazing structure towers up over the very trees that support it.
Known as the Minister’s Treehouse (out of deference to creator Horace Burgess, de facto pastor of the forest) this phenomenal structure includes such strange features as a third-floor basketball-court-and-sanctuary combination, a half-ton chime at the very top of the building on top of a penthouse suite Burgess built for his wife as an anniversary present.
The structure itself seems to fluctuate between highly organized, regular and planned to completely haphazard, chaotic and unstable. Perhaps as weird and wonderful as anything else this unique building has to offer: essentially the entire tree house is open to the public, provided they obey simple no-smoking rules and respect the structure of course.
“One of the coolest roadside wonders of the United States is no more. Built nail by reclaimed nail over several decades by Minister Horace Burgess in Crossville, Tennesseee, “The Minister’s Treehouse” caught fire this week and burned to the ground within just 15 minutes. Anyone who was ever able to tour this 80-room wonder before its demise (like this writer) probably won’t be surprised by this news, since the whole thing felt like a tinder box all along.”
“Over the years, the treehouse hosted church services and was sometimes reportedly care-taken by homeless people who lived on the property. For decades, it was a word-of-mouth tourist attraction, drawing in 400-500 visitors a week, who would climb as high as they dared. The inside was full of pews, stained glass, rope swings art installations and a basketball court.”
“In 2012, the treehouse was closed to the public after the fire department deemed it unsafe. It’s easy to understand why, especially given its ultimate fate, but it feels like a loss nonetheless.”