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The biggest Tree House in the world: Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, Tennessee

Petar Djajkovski

This is the biggest tree house in the world, located in Crossville, Tennessee. From start to finish it was a one man project. Horace Burgess, a local minister, is the man directly and solemnly responsible for this huge wooden structure.

He said that while praying he had a vision in which God spoke directly to him and told him that if he started to build a tree house, he would never run out of materials for it. Burgess started right away and continued to build with great success, but today it stands empty following concerns by local fire marshals.

The Minister’s Tree House in fall, built by one man out of scrap wood. Author: Joel Kramer – CC BY 2.0

The Minister’s Tree House in fall, built by one man out of scrap wood. Author: Joel Kramer – CC BY 2.0

It all started somewhere in the beginning of the 1990s when Horace Burgess bought a piece of wooded land on the outskirts of the city of Crossville. He really liked the idea of having a tree-house in the branches of the biggest tree on his newly bought land.

August, front of Horace Burgess’s treehouse in Crossville, TN. Author: 1779Days – CC BY-SA 4.0

August, front of Horace Burgess’s treehouse in Crossville, TN. Author: 1779Days – CC BY-SA 4.0

He started working on his dream idea with much enthusiasm and a lot of effort. However after several years spent sawing wood and banging nails, he ran out of materials and was sort of forced to stop the construction.

Burgess then, as he puts it, he turned his life over to God. And it was at this time that he claims the voice of God said to him: “If you build Me a tree house, I’ll never let you run out of material.” An offer like this doesn’t come very often and naturally Burgess got back to work on the tree house, but now with a much higher purpose.

Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, TN. Author: Andy Melton – CC BY 2.0

Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, TN. Author: Andy Melton – CC BY 2.0

After eleven years of construction Horace reached a level of greatness no other tree house in the world could match. Built with no blueprints whatsoever, the house rises up 100 feet, incorporating it not only the one original huge tree, but also seven others that support its windows and floors.

One of the 80 rooms of Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, TN. Author: Andy Melton – CC BY 2.0

One of the 80 rooms of Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, TN. Author: Andy Melton – CC BY 2.0

Its true dimensions are mystery to the master builder himself. He believes that the house covers something like 10,000 square feet, divided in five different stories. There are around 80 different rooms in addition to the church and the bell tower. Instead of bells, the bell tower has oxygen acetylene bottles that chime every day.

Crows nest of Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, TN. Author: Andy Melton – CC BY 2.0

Crows nest of Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, TN. Author: Andy Melton – CC BY 2.0

Every story of this tree house is surrounded 360 degrees with a deck, as a mark of a true southern fashion. There are no signs such as “No Climbing,” “Do Not Enter,” or “Private Property.”

Horace says that this is the tree house of God and everyone is welcomed.

One of the many porches in Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, TN. Author: Andy Melton – CC BY 2.0

One of the many porches in Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, TN. Author: Andy Melton – CC BY 2.0

The only two signs on the premises are: “Welcome” and “No Smoking,” which makes a lot of sense as it is fully made out of wood so any little fire could bring disaster. A climb to the top of the tree-house presents a great view over the garden, where spelled out in flora the word “Jesus” can be seen on a field nearby.

Wooden Cross in Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, TN. Author: Andy Melton – CC BY 2.0

Wooden Cross in Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, TN. Author: Andy Melton – CC BY 2.0

The house is sometimes referred to as Horace Burgess’s Treehouse, or the Minister’s Treehouse. And it is both a house and a temple — a very popular place for visitors and tourists, and Horace says everyone is welcomed to visit his tree-house, as it is also the house of God.

The Holy Bible in Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, TN. Author: Andy Melton – CC BY 2.0

The Holy Bible in Minister’s Tree House in Crossville, TN. Author: Andy Melton – CC BY 2.0

When there is no service, the ground floor of the tree house is used as a basketball court by the local junior team. However since August 2012 the biggest tree house in the world was closed by the local fire marshal. He was concerned of the possible fire hazards, as thousands of tourists and visitors come to see the house every year.

Even though it has so far proven been that the tree house is well built and there are no fire regulations for tree-houses, the biggest tree-house in the world remains closed and abandoned.