Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Madame is like a Southern archeologist of weird shit: Part 2

Continuing on our journey from yesterday we are slowly trying to make our way up to the bell tower.

I want to go to there.
We don't know how to get there but we can see it.  I will not be bested by a tree house!

Oh look a kitty...!!
In a sitting area with nice carpet floors.  So relaxing and...

OMIGOD IT'S A FUCKING WOOD BURNING STOVE!!!  The art is a nice homey touch but won't help when you're BURNING ALIVE IN A HOUSE MADE OF FIREWOOD!!!!

In a closet room next to the little "living room" is the other kitty.  He looks pissed but I find this scene infinitely awesome.

And a matching doggie.  But this one's alive.  I think...  He was pointing the way up to this:

Just a normal bathtub on a deck about 7 stories up.   A bathtub painted with an OCTOPUSSY!!  I'm not sure how it got there but I bet it was the exact same way the pyramids were built....  SCIENTOLOGISTS!!!  Don't tell Horace because I bet it would really cramp his Jesus style. 

But look we're so close now!!  

Ok just a few more steps up this narrow hallway of possible doom...

I don't even know if I'm looking up or down but I still smell that damn camp fire and it makes me nervous...

Black and white is artsy fartsy
??? but I like it and it's real high so I know I'm closer to jeezus.

Ta daaahh!!  We made it!  Up in the bell tower it's breezy (you can tell because the whole thing sways like it's rocking you to sleep) and peaceful because you can't hear the redneck kids yelling way down below.  It really did feel like a secret tree house now.  And in the last few stairwells and specifically in the tower itself much of the graffiti was memorializing lost friends and loved ones.  Much nicer than the "Ashley sux dix" variety in the chapel area.  

But what's this...??

Just the best landscaping you've ever seen.  I think that's an American flag that some volunteers are helping to maintain.  I'm putting one in the ModSauce ranch immediately.  

You could then climb a tiny ladder to ring the bell but I think everyone was motion sick from the swaying and wanted to get down immediately...

So now what...??


There were a few floors below the chapel on the ground where the materials were housed until future use.

B&W for artsy basement contemplation...

I squee hard for abandoned furniture and things...

And so we move to the backyard...

5 story lawn chair swing

I didn't get a chance to ride because the hippies were being stingy and it also looked like a chair of death.  And that's saying a lot considering I just survived a 10 story fire hazard.

Nothing makes Jesus happier than graffiti in a doorway that opens onto a 3 story drop straight to the ground.  But it's easy to make fun of all this until you look at those balconies and remember that every single piece of wood in this 10,000+ square foot place was specifically placed by hand in each position for a reason known solely to the builder.  It all feels rather awesomely insane.  

But a thoughtful type of insanity where windows line up on a wall that is supported by a rock foundation. 

Being that this is a church I would have liked to write a stunning essay on the idea of sacred space and the rapture of buildings but I was mentally exhausted and really sweaty from the fear of dying, still distracted by redneck kids running around like heathens jacked up on Mountain Dew (ok that was me...) and somewhere somebody was hammering really loudly in an ongoing push to keep adding on to this place.  I didn't really have a moment for reflection because I spent a lot of time trying to find the nearest exit in case of emergency.  (It was usually a running leap off of the nearest balcony you could find.)  But it does boggle the mind to think about a man building his tree ark with no plan (that I'm aware of), no schematics, just a hammer and a few hundred thousand nails as a constant prayer for the last 17 years.   Awesomely insane or not that is a dedication to be respected and rewarded with an extra bag of combos and Mountain Dew.


  1. Madame Mod - terror terror!! I love this place, would not be the same w/out the Jesus and flag landscape. in case you missed the lord in the sky, you get the green son.

    my fave was the abandoned or future stored furniture - truly artsy. and the podium. and the stairs with light stripes from the slats. the tub was complete grunge. When we couldnt figure out how to structure a building, we always relied on god, just like Harvey or harry or what was his name?

    too bad about the swinging hippies.. would have loved to try that too. All I need now is a map to find this treasure. only question... is it really a bona fide tree house? ok, spoken like an architect. but there's an awful lot of boards hitting the ground to call it a true tree-supported structure.

    thanks for the adventure!
    Cindy @urbanverse

  2. Thanks Cindy - I will happily give you directions. ; ) I'm still calling it a tree house because I think the "basement" levels that touch the ground seemed to be added later... otherwise it just becomes a "shack" and that's not as fun to write about.

    Also, "in case you missed the lord in the sky, you get the green son" is comment perfection.

  3. Well, that's just about the best homage to Crazy I've ever seen. I think my favorite part was the burnt out floor around the wood-burning stove! And the octopussy tub (Beware if you ever find yourself standing under it when the tub is full of rainwater!). Oh, and the Jesus crop circles. So many delightful oddities. :-)

  4. Ha! 'Jesus crop circles' is awesome! I wondered about what would happen when it rained but figured you might be wet but at least the possibility of dying in a fire would be less so there's that...

    Sigh... Gawd I love Crazy too. ; )

  5. one heck of a journey madame -- the places you go for the sake of your readers (awe-inspiring) and I love it sans reference to cowboys or cheese -- Jesus -- rednecks and Mountain Dew make good readin' too! glad you made it out safe.

  6. You have climbed to the Mountain and found your Dew! Any bats in that belfry cuz most of them seem to be below trimming up the Jeezus hedges. Kymberly

  7. jb - shyeah, I totally did this for my readers. Glad you enjoyed vicariously. ; )

    Kymberly - No bats which is probably a good thing because I would have peed my pants if I saw one. Also because I drank a lot of Mountain Dew...

  8. oh man, these pictures KILL me!! i have to make it up there soon. any property with judgement day signs at the entrance are super great 75% of the time.

    thanks for sharing!!


  9. I can tell you this place was 100% awesome. Enjoy!

  10. Holy Hell...Just found you via Design Crisis and I live in and MUST know where this place is!? Thanks you for sharing the tour...fab.

  11. You're from TN?! Cool! Welcome to the Sauce! I need to remember how to get there but it was really easy and about an hour or hour and a half outside of Chattanooga - near Crossville. Email me at madamesunday @ gmail dot com for better directions!

    Thanks for stopping by!