Monday, October 11, 2010

The Madame is like a Southern archeologist of weird shit: Part 1

The Madame took a field trip for my recent birfday staycation (it was within 200 miles so the "stay" part still applies) inspired by this post about the world's "largest" tree house right here in Tennessee.  Largest is in quotes because you can't really measure crazy in quantifiable numbers.  To recap, some dude named Horace got a message from gawd in about 1993 to start building a tree house and so he did.  Just like anybody would do obviously.  With no construction background he just started building.  He says it's held together by faith.  He ain't shittin you.

Located two hours from Chattavegas it's just a quick trip through this:

to get to this:
It doesn't look that crazy... 


Until you step out of the car and see this:

Southern fried jeezus.
The first thing I noticed (other than all the rednecks having picnics and the sweet reminder about everyone's favorite savior) was that the entire place smelled like campfire which is not something you want to smell when entering a 10-story tall house made of matchsticks that could burst into flames just by the heat emitted from your thighs rubbing together while walking up a spiral staircase to meet my impending doom in this rickety house.  OMIGOD I'M GOING TO FUCKING DIE HERE BECAUSE OF MY FAT THIGHS!!!!
"Enter at your own risk."  Yeah - it said that.
This towering staircase is the main entrance to the circus of delights.  There is a certain sense of awe when you stand at the base of this thing and marvel at its sheer size and "craftsmanship" while actively disregarding your body's primal fear response for even thinking of stepping into a space that looks like it was built by a hurricane using rotting wood and jeezus spit.  Just ignore the flop sweat.  It'll pass.  Eventually...

In the meantime you can rest at this bench on your way up the stairs.  This staircase wraps around a tree and is completely sheathed with these haphazard scraps that are all vandalized by idiot tweeners like a booth at a dirty pizza joint.  Or at least the good ones I eat at.  

Eventually, after you're nicely dizzy and disoriented you kind of wander into an open area that is the chapel.

Look at that tree "support beam"
You can tell it's the church part because it's got a giant cross in it.  Apparently rogue campers are also using the space for the weekend.  Blessed be.  Tents were everywhere and the pews - yes there were church pews - were littered with Patagonia jackets, sleeping bags and drying bathing suits (Bikinis 4 Jesus?!) from the swimming pond nearby.  Homeless people sometimes sleep here too.  I bet they don't have Patagonia jackets.

The pulpit.  And a velvet Jebus displayed non-ironically.

Detail of the carved wooden pulpit.

Do you see the plywood arch detail near the top center?
Here's a closer look at the stadium seating from the chapel picture above.  I don't think I would set Charlemagne on those things to take a nap let alone invite a few dozen people on there to listen to a sermon.  That horizontal band of wood at the top is the front balcony of more seating.  Seating that is completely SUSPENDED those three stories up so your feet can dangle and you can feel like an angel flying.  Sometimes that might come in handy here.

Looking up from the chapel floor (which is on the 2nd or 3rd story) you can see the main roof up another few stories.  I use these numbers loosely because I really have no idea which areas count as real stories because I was already lost and "walls" and "floors" are really such a vague terms.  After the claustrophobic climb in the spiral of death to get here this view was quite breathtaking.  

Standing in one of the mezzanines looking over the central chapel (I can't even tell you how I got here) you can see some of the details - the "board and batten" railing was quite pretty especially for a man who knew nothing about building.  Even the curve of that corner echoes the curved pew I saw that sat in the shadows behind it.  This guy is either completely batshit insane or an absolute fucking genius.  Both I think.

I don't even know...

I believe most of the materials and furnishings are donated or found so there's a real thrift store/junkyard chic feeling about this place.  Probably why I liked it so much.  This picture makes me exceedingly happy.

Part of the ModSauce road trip posse included an architect although I wouldn't recommend inviting one if you visit here unless you would like to be told in horrifying detail exactly how you will plummet to your death at every step or watch in helpless horror as the weight of a squirrel collapses the roof on top of you due to the lack of building code compliance because of things like this:
Roof fail.  Or WAS it??!!! 


The underside of some stairs.  I think...
 Of course we're all still alive so show's how much you architects know about miracles building things!!  AHAHAHAHAHA! 

Or designing floor plans because this entire place is like an awesome maze.  All of these pictures might be visually confusing and lack a sense of spatial depth because that's exactly how it felt to be inside.  We wandered around for hours because there is no way to get yourself oriented correctly.  There are no hallways or logical entrances or exits or continuous staircases but instead there were lots of dead ends and trap doors and secret spaces that kids kept popping their heads out of.  Every corner was a surprise and a puzzle.  It was exhausting and exhilarating.  However there was a general feeling of wanting to climb higher to visit the bell tower but hell if anyone knew how to get there.  

Oh look - some steps going up!!

I'm guessing this doorway led to one of the balconies that encircled each story for when you wanted to some fresh air but only for a minute because the roughly 2-foot wide balcony had large gaps of daylight peeking through the slats in the floor and I knew if I hit a rotten piece I would plummet to my death just like my architect friend told me I would and I did NOT want to prove that fucker right.  So I tried to step on the "joists" only...  They were not 16 inches on center.  More like 2-3 feet.  If I was lucky.

Uh oh... we're getting high...

Alright, I'm dizzy and tired so come back tomorrow for Part 2 of the MS adventure...  Squeeee!!


  1. Wow! Jesus H. Christ. (I exclaimed that once, and my daughter coyly asked me what the "H" stood for. Anyone know?) That is something otherworldly....I'm looking forward to the rest of the story!

  2. I'm going to say the H stands for Horace now. I don't think he'll mind.

    The amount of pictures I took was bananas. It was a WOW at every turn... see ya tomorrow!

  3. At the very least you got some good building tips for your kitchen. Stick with the "open fire pit for cooking" theme.

  4. I think I might already have an open fire pit for cooking in my kitchen from hell...

  5. I have to see this shit for myself. The only weird house I've seen is the Winchester Mansion and I thought that lady was crazy as shit.

  6. Would love to see the Winchester Mansion! But this place is a must-see redneck version of that I think.