World’s Largest Treehouse
In the 1990s, Horace Burgess started on a tree house inspired by his newfound dedication to God. Built without blueprints, the massive 100′ structure has attracted thousands of thrill seekers looking to break in and leave pro-Christian graffiti.
After starting in 1993 and finishing in 2004, the Tree House saw uninvited visitors even during its construction phase and continues to attract attention from people looking to take selfies inside the structure.
The story of the Minister’s Tree House is really the story of how Horace Burgess became a man of God. Starting off as a landscaper and now an ordained minister, Burgess said that he wanted to build the biggest treehouse in the world after his neighbors complained about the last one.
Burgess said that when he started building, he was just a regular guy with a family and a job. But after working on the tree house project for a few years, he ran out of lumber and lost the desire to keep working on it.
“Then, I turned my life over to God. And the spirit of God said, ‘If you build Me a tree house, I’ll never let you run out of material.”
It was after this that Burgess became an ordained minister and picked up where he left, turning his hand to the vision he received. As for the size and shape of the tree house, Burgess said that God hadn’t told him how big it would be, because if He did then Burgess “would’ve tried to talk Him out of it.”
World’s Largest Tree House
Despite the lack of a Guinness category for the World’s Largest Tree House, the Minister’s is unofficially considered to be it because nobody else has come forth with any other possible claims to the throne.
Right now, the tree house also includes a church, and the structure is supported by an 80′ tall white oak tree with a 12′ diameter at the base. The tree is still alive. The church structure serves a dual purpose as a basketball court.
True to the promise of God, Minister Burgess hasn’t since run out of material and he says he only spent $12,000 on building materials. Without blueprints it’s hard to exactly determine the contents of the 97′ structure, but it has approximately 80 rooms and is approximately 10,000 square feet.
The structure has five stories plus a bell tower complete with bells. Okay, they’re actually re-purposed oxygen containers used by welders, but they get the job done and chime daily.
The five stories are all surrounded by a wrap-around deck, and while there is now a sign that ban smoking as well as “vandalism, sex, drugs and alcohol” there are no signs asking people to not climb, and there are certainly no “private property” signs. It’s God’s house, says Burgess — everyone is welcome.
Reviews on the property from locals generally blame vandalism for the real reason that people are no longer able to climb to the bell tower. A nearby field allegedly spells out “Jesus” with plants, but since you can only see it from the very top, it’s not always easy to find someone brave enough to get up that high.
Some Visitors Still Need Jesus
As always, you can never have a nice religious site without people showing up in order to be disrespectful. If these two ‘ladies’ did the same thing while visiting a Buddhist monastery and put it on social media looking for attention they’d be slapped with a hate crime.
The Minister’s Tree House is located in Crossville, about an hour’s drive west of Knoxville, an hour and a half north of Chattanooga and almost two hours east of Nashville. It’s located on the dirt road end of Beehive Lane, only a short distance from Catoosa Wildlife Management Area.
The Tree House is no longer officially open to visitors after authorities shut down the visitations in 2012 due to fire code violations. At the time, Burgess argued that this was an invalid reason to be shut down, because his structure is a tree house and there are no building codes on the books for tree houses. But, if you can manage to sweet talk Horace, you might be invited in as a guest.
Sources: ABC, Atlas Obscura, Wikipedia, Business Insider