Often touted as the biggest treehouse in the world, the “Minister’s Treehouse” in Crossville, Tennessee is one of the most bizarre creations we’ve ever visited on the road. The views from the many perches are downright beautiful, but walking the rickety homemade stairs to get there is also terrifying. Here’s how our visit went…
We made our stop at the Minister’s Treehouse in Crossville, TN back in 2013 as a stop on the America Adventure road rally, which, in our opinion, is pretty much the perfect way to see anything. Just that day we’d visited Johnny Cash and June Carter’s grave, found a bizarre memorial to “Damnit the Dog,” and then we stood before this monstrous 97 ft. homemade wooden cathedral. (More information on the upcoming America Adventure)
According to the minister of said “Minister’s Treehouse,” Horace Burgess, God basically told him to build a treehouse. So he did. Running to the lumber and scrap yards time after time God seemed to provide more wood for Minister Burgess, and after a remarkable amount of ingenuity and hard work over the course of 14 years, the 80-ft. oak tree he started with was cloaked by a wooden treehouse towering bizarrely into the otherwise empty rural Tennessee landscape.
People often ask us, “Where’s the coolest place you’ve been?” or, “What’s the best thing you’ve ever seen on the road?” Well, quite honestly, the Minister’s Treehouse in little ol’ Crossville, TN may just be it. From the moment you get there you’re overcome the urge to explore like a kid finding a new playground. Each flight of stairs seems to unveil some new room to explore.
While the sanctuary portions of the Minister’s Treehouse are without a doubt impressive, the “Upper Room,” at the treehouse surprised me the most. In addition to the towering structure, Burgess found time to also carve wooden sculptures of the disciples and Jesus at the last supper.
The sanctuary and upper room are just one of the dozens of rooms found throughout the treehouse as it rises 5 stories into the air.
Minister Burgess originally intended the Minister’s Treehouse to be open to all, all the time, and for a few years that was the case. Despite some rowdy kids (see hilarious sign below), the Ministers Treehouse was generally treated with respect by Crossville folks and traveling tourists like us. Then the big bad fire marshall got wind of this 5-story pile of homemade kindling… The Lord may have commissioned the Minister’s Treehouse, but the fire marshall closed it down.
Today, a gate keeps visitors out, but Horace is often wandering around the grounds and is said to live nearby. Your best bet for getting a tour of the treehouse is to catch him stirring around as you pass through town.
We certainly can’t condone trespassing, but locals say that option also carries little risk. Just be careful. the stairs, handrails, and pretty much everything about this place seems to change at every turn. While awesome in the daylight, I wouldn’t have the stones to go through it on a pitch-black Tennessee night.
Crossville, TN 38571
Take Exit 320 off I-40 then turn north onto Highway 298. Turn right onto Cook Rd. then drive until the road makes a sharp right (about a mile down). Instead of turning right, turn left onto Beehive Lane.
Featured image credit: Flickr