“Rise and Fall: The Tale of the World’s Largest Treehouse”
Crossville, Tennessee, boasts an extraordinary marvel – the world’s largest treehouse. Crafted by Horace Burgess, this towering creation, known as “The Minister’s Tree House,” stands as a testament to human creativity and faith.
Divine Inspiration and Remarkable Construction
Horace Burgess embarked on this remarkable journey in 1993, driven by what he believed was a divine commission from God. An awe-inspiring ten stories tall, the treehouse stands tall on a foundation of six oak trees. Its incredible dimensions amount to over 3,000 square meters of “living space.”
Burgess’s unwavering faith in God’s promise led to a construction that defied norms. Over nearly 250,000 nails were used in this wooden wonder, completed over 14 years, and estimated to have cost around $12,000.
Burgess’s conviction rested on the belief that divine guidance was behind this venture. According to him, God reassured him that the wood required would never run out. This assurance formed the cornerstone of the treehouse’s construction.
A Space for Prayer and Play
The treehouse’s grandeur encompassed a substantial central area, serving dual purposes as a space for prayer and basketball games. Ascending to its zenith revealed a penthouse on the tenth floor and a half-ton church bell, marking the intersection of the spiritual and the playful.
Marks of Visitors and Endings
Visitors etched their memories onto the structure, leaving marks on the wooden planks. However, despite its charm, the treehouse was shuttered in 2012 due to fire code violations, with concerns of the flammable materials posing a significant fire risk.
In a tragic turn of events, this magnificent wooden structure, standing 97 feet tall, met its untimely end. Consumed by flames in less than half an hour, the Minister’s Treehouse was reduced to ashes.
A Two-Decade Journey
Construction commenced in the early 1990s, with architect Harold Burgess acting upon his belief that the project would never lack material. Sourced from raw lumber donations by locals, the treehouse grew over two decades.
A Tapestry of Rooms
The treehouse expanded across 80 rooms, including classrooms, bedrooms, and a kitchen. Its five stories were interconnected by a towering white oak tree, 80 feet tall. A sweeping wraparound porch connected the levels, and the interior melded the eccentric and the spiritual.
Inside, a hand-carved Bible, a towering cross, and wooden pews forged a unique ambiance. The word “JESUS” was meticulously mowed into the grass below the structure. Church services held within its walls drew visitors seeking a distinct spiritual experience.
Closure and Fire’s Fury
In 2012, state fire marshals deemed the treehouse unsafe for tourism due to various infractions, ranging from structural concerns to safety issues. Burgess defiantly displayed a sign reading “Closed by the state fire marshal. File your complaints with them.”
Tragedy struck when flames engulfed the treehouse. Captain Derek Carter of the Cumberland County Fire Department described the scene as “a pile of rubble.” Despite the efforts of firefighters, the blaze swiftly claimed the once-majestic structure.
A Memory of Grandeur
For Pigeon Forge native Macy Leatherwood, the Minister’s Treehouse stood as the highlight of a family trip, a memory forever cherished. Its enchantment remained etched in her memory, even though she could only glimpse it from afar.
A Mix of Cool and Danger
Captain Carter, who had visited the treehouse as a tourist before its closure, summed it up succinctly. The treehouse, with its undeniable allure, was also undeniably perilous.
A Saga of Faith and Loss
From its origins as a testament to faith to its tragic demise in flames, the Minister’s Treehouse tells a story of human endeavor and divine inspiration. This extraordinary creation may have fallen, but its legacy lives on in the hearts of those who marveled at its splendor.