Not your ordinary treehouse
WADENA — When retired couple Will and Peggy Line walk up the steps into their tree house on their property in southeast Wadena they feel like they’re 12 again.
The tree house that’s nearly 15 feet up in the air entangled with several large trees is not your typical tree house that usually consists of a few old boards nailed to the tree for a fort and steps.
The Line’s tree house is a rustic cabin with a loft, up in the trees. The cabin can be lived in year-round, as it is winterized and has plumbing and electricity. The 420-square-feet tree house has a kitchen, bathroom, a small sitting area on the main floor and the loft includes the sleeping quarters where there are three twin beds and a full-size bed, without bed frames. To get up to the loft, there’s a steep wooden ladder/steps and the loft includes a short cat walk. A deck surrounds the tree house for access around it and includes a hot tub for enjoyment. The Union Creek and wetlands can be seen from behind the tree house.
The tree house is supported by full logs that are buried six-feet into the ground surrounded by cement. Steel beams were added for additional support after the June 17, 2010, tornado — just in case.
The Lines, who have lived in the tree house for three years, but do not at this time, said the tree house was never meant to be as large as it got.
“It kind of got out of hand,” they said, but they wouldn’t change a thing on the tree house, as it is their “heaven.”
The Lines built the tree house themselves in 2000 using materials from the sawmill that they owned. The Lines were living in an apartment at the sawmill at the time and purchased five acres of property at the edge of Wadena. They had three big white oak trees that were in a triangular position and they thought about building a “nice size” tree house for their grandchildren when they come to visit.
“The tree house slowing began turning into a guest cottage and we added a kitchen and bathroom,” said Will Line. “It took us almost two years to build, we became obsessed with it.
“Everything was bolted and screwed down for support. We had basic knowledge on how to build it. We used graph paper on the design and used timbers of various hardwoods and the siding is the soft maple slabs, all from the mill.”
Peggy Line said “We felt like we were 12 again. We thought, well, if you can dream it you can do it.
“I guess we watched Swiss Family Robinson a little too much.”
The Lines built a six-foot culvert in the ground that runs up to the tree house with that portion disguised as a tree to hide the plumbing and heating systems. The tree house is hooked up to city water and sewer and the Lines had to get all the city permits needed to build the tree house.
Will Line said the biggest challenge in building the tree house, was not the plumbing or heating, but rather putting the roof on. Line said when the roof was constructed, no side decks were part of the plan then.
“This left us with no place to work on,” said Line. “Most of the roof was put on from the inside of the tree house, and then I had to be on the top to do the rest of the roof.”
Line said another challenge that made building the tree house difficult was that all the materials had to be brought up to the tree house for construction, so the Lines made many trips up and down. They also had no power, so they used a generator for electricity.
Peggy Line said the hardest thing for her was seeing the big picture. She said they had everything down on graph paper and it was difficult for her to see what the details of the tree house would look like once complete. She said one point that was to their advantage was during the winter months when they couldn’t do much with the tree house, they’d constantly modify their plans, which made the tree house even better.
Will Line said Wadena had 80 mph winds about six or seven years ago and “the tree house proved itself to hold up.”
The Lines sold their sawmill, along with their apartment, so they moved into the tree house, as it was just the two of them. They began building a workshop with a gathering room for when their children and grandchildren would come to visit, since the tree house was not big enough to host too many people.
The Lines had to move out of the tree house when Peggy’s daughter, Lori, moved from a group home to their home. They built an apartment on the upper level of the workshop for Lori to live in and they built a house next to the workshop that is attached for themselves.
The Lines hope to move back into the tree house someday, but in the mean time they started to rent out the tree house for people to stay in for mini-vacations. They call it the “tree house Getaway.” Since July, they began renting out the tree house for $150 a night, with the second night being offered at half the price. The Lines also offer free tours of the tree house, but people must call them ahead of time to make sure they’re available. The number to call for a tour or to rent the tree house is (218) 639-8017.
“It’s good for the soul for people to see it,” said Peggy Line. “There’s a peace to it and it’s fun.”
When the Lines first built the tree house, they were not sure what type of response they’d receive from the public. However, the response was positive and they’re overwhelmed with the media attention they’ve received over the years, which included the New York Times Magazine, “On the Road with Jason Davis” and CBS News.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5851.