I just returned from a trip to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Grassy Cove, Tennessee. If you’re a long-time reader of IDH, you may remember when I visited them way back in 2009 for the Chip Falcon Road Trip (my brother did the cycle testing).
When we visited last year, my brother and I went to see the Minister’s Treehouse in nearby Crossville. The treehouse was built by Horace Burgess, an ordained minister and landscape architect, who received a message from God that if he started building, he’d never run out of materials. Constructed of reclaimed wood and other recycled materials (along with approximately 258,000 nails), the treehouse has grown to 10 stories, 100 feet tall, and 8,000-10,000 square feet.
The treehouse is like no other structure I’ve seen before. So, you may be asking yourself, why didn’t I ever share the photos with y’all? From a fire and egress standpoint, let’s just say that the treehouse is a problem. I found myself in a catch-22 situation…expose the situation to the world and risk being blamed for closing down a beloved roadside attraction? Or keep quiet and potentially see someone get hurt? I knew that the local authorities must already know about the treehouse – it’s the #2 attraction in Crossville according to TripAdvisor! While I was wondering what to do, time went by and I eventually forgot about it.
Last week my brother told me that the treehouse had been closed by the state fire marshal’s office on August 30th. I swear, I wasn’t the one who brought it up with them. I’m torn…on one hand the building is definitely unsafe, it’s 60′ higher than code allows, and it’s visited by about 1,000 people per week. On the other hand, Horace has spent 19 years building the treehouse, after receiving divine inspiration. This article from the Crossville Chronicle lists the specific issues raised by the fire marshal. Having visited the site, I don’t think there’s any way the treehouse could be made anywhere near code-compliant.
Check out the photos and then let me know what you think about the fire marshal’s decision. I wasn’t documenting fire and egress issues when I took the photos, but I think you can get an idea of what the treehouse is like.
Inside the rounded area is a spiral staircase:
Here’s the top of the spiral staircase from the interior:
I’m not sure what this shaft is for…definitely not an elevator.
The tree house doesn’t have a whole lot of doors, but here’s the Door of Doom (do not open):
More photos and information here:
Divine vision inspired a 97-foot treehouse – USA Today
The Minister’s Treehouse (video) – Knox News