20 Mar 2007

Another life out on a limb

Treehouses that are used as full-time dwellings are a real rarity.

When Kendall Thurston, a 35-year-old cabinet maker from New York visited his parents in central Florida, he couldn’t resist building a treehouse in a giant oak tree there, 40 feet up on the banks of the Suwannee River. During the late Spring floods, the river surrounds his home and he has to reach it by boat.

The house simply rests on the tree limbs, floating freely, and preventing it from being torn apart as the tree bends in high winds.

He got fresh water for cooking and washing from a neighbours tap, which was hoisted up from below.

Inside views:

Left: His view looking down on the kitchen, from his sleeping loft above. His stove and fridge were fuelled by propane.
Right: The wood stove in the corner warmed his home during the cold winter nights. His bed was nestled in the loft above. Visitors were encouraged to write on the walls.

Kendall built this house on his own in 6 months and managed to live there for 4 years, before his oral lease with the then landowner fell through. Sadly the land was sold to a developer, and despite efforts to buy the lot where the tree grew, he was evicted.

A friend of a friend who knew a helicopter pilot got help to have his house hoisted and flown down the Suwannee, while Kendall followed in his boat. His treehouse was safely landed in a nearby cotton field, 3 miles away. I really hope that one day, someone nearby will offer him another tree to hoist his treehome.

All images are from TREEHOUSES by Peter Nelson. Photographs by Paul Rocheleau. This wonderful book is filled with so many inspiring hand made treehouses, some more beautiful, some higher, some even smaller than this one, but Kendall’s is still my favourite.


  • Markie
    October 14, 2020 Reply

    Very cool this house was took to my farm but is no longer here. What happened to it after that?

  • Markana smith
    October 14, 2020 Reply

    So glad I found this. My farm is were the treehouse ended up but it not here now. I would love to know what happened to it after it was at out farm?

  • Joel Phelps
    March 16, 2013 Reply

    Wow! At 15 in 1986 while canoeing I climbed this ladder and met Kendall(my most memorable event of a 31 day trip). Signed my name to a loft rafter4/19/86. as fate would have it near 27 years later I revisited the treehouse 3/14/2013 and found my name and date exactly where I wrote. Priceless in all aspects.
    Thank you Joel Phelps

    • } bird {
      March 16, 2013 Reply

      Amazing Joel!! Thanks for sharing <3

  • Red Icculus
    December 13, 2008 Reply

    This story is amazing. I am glad he got to keep his home.

  • nykki
    March 26, 2007 Reply

    awe, bummer man

  • lola
    March 20, 2007 Reply


  • Ms. Wakame
    March 20, 2007 Reply

    I know…

  • nathan
    March 20, 2007 Reply

    Oh my god…that’s the most …………….

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