Treehouse show makes mark in Wayne County
WAYNE COUNTY — Brandt Temple knew he needed a little more space. Little did he know that space would turn into a first-class treehouse and be featured on national television. "This is like a dream come true," said Temple of his new Wayne County treehouse, complete with an Indiana Jones theme. That dream will be featured on the Animal Planet series "Treehouse Masters," with the show to air tonight. Family tradition gone wild Temple's property has been in the family since the 1800s. His mother grew up on the property. His uncle built the house. Temple remembers always coming to grandma's house so they could play in the "crick," as he puts it. In fact, the youngsters built the steps down to the stream for their grandmother. There then came a time when Temple said the family wasn't sure exactly what was going to happen to the property. But after some talking, he ended up purchasing the place himself. He said because they have so many relatives come over for reunions and many other events, he had to finish the basement just to accommodate the kids. "We need a guest house," he told his wife, Annie. He was thinking about a bunk house as a place for all of the youngsters to play and sleep. The next step But Temple then began thinking back to his youth. He said he was fascinated by treehouse books and thought maybe that might be a way to get it accomplished. He was also a fan of Treehouse Masters, the Animal Planet show hosted by Pete Nelson. "We need one of those things," said Temple one day while considering that new addition. "Why don't you call Pete Nelson," said his wife. At first, he thought that was simply a crazy idea. But Temple isn't one to hold back. So he decided to make a presentation and send it to the Animal Planet producers for consideration. In fact, his presentation was certain to standout since it was a 30-slide Powerpoint outlining what he wanted in a treehouse. "The second day I got a call," said Temple. In fact, during that call, Temple was told that Nelson was going to be in the area and wanted to come up and look at the property. They wandered around the property and Temple made it clear he really wanted to keep the view from the deck of the house to the "crick." "Then he saw the tree," said Temple. That large cherry tree was located on a part of the property which Temple said was never used. It was perfect. The Temple of fun Once the decision was made as to where to locate the treehouse, Temple said Nelson immediately went inside and began making rough drawings right at the kitchen table. Temple told Nelson he was thinking of an Indiana Jones theme. "I love those movies," he said. That was all it took and the planning began. "I wanted it to be for adults but also have space for the kids," said Temple. Temple and his wife have three children, daughters Sawyer, 11, and Sophia, 9, along with a new son, Luke, who was four months old when the house was revealed in mid-October. Astonishing achievement Whether your are an adult or a child, the house which was constructed is absolutely astonishing. You first enter through a hanging bridge that leads to the main deck. If you are the adventurous type, you can walk down a suspended bridge which leads to another tree on the property. When you walk inside the place, it is only the finest quality of craftsmanship — and lined with great amenities. There's a big screen television which is perfect for a little beer drinking and football watching. There is a small kitchen area off to one side and then there is a door in the Indiana Jones theme that leads to a screened-in patio which has undoubtedly played host to many people since it was built. A bookcase in one corner is actually a hidden entrance to the upstairs portion of the treehouse. There you will find bunks which can accommodate four people — most likely the children. The house also features an outside deck with a great view of that "crick," a climbing wall and a natural wall on one side which features various vegetation that will continue to grow. "It is a little bit over the top," admitted Temple on the day of the reveal. Temple also thinks his grandmother would be very proud of what has happened with the property. "I feel grandma is looking down on us," said Temple. He said it pretty much gives their family a lock on hosting events. "I think this solidifies family reunions," he said, smiling. A dream come true For Nelson, his rise to fame has been, well, unexpected. "I was told you could do anything you wanted when you work hard," said Nelson during the final day of the build in Wayne County. "It was a slow go for many years." Nelson has always had a passion for treehouses, building them in his backyard as a kid. He worked as a contractor and builder and one day thought to himself, "I could be the treehouse guy." So he decided the best medium back then was a coffee table book. He proceeded to make that happen. The purpose of that first book, he said, was "to become the treehouse guy." He began producing a few more books and then in 1997, he was featured in a major story in Smithsonian Magazine, which was a big deal for Nelson. Moving forward That same year, a small group was formed and a meeting of people interested in treehouses was held in southern Oregon. The group still meets each year and Nelson had been to that meeting just a couple weeks prior to finishing the house in Wayne County. "I found the best way to connect with trees was working with them," said Nelson. He does that regularly now that he's hosting a successful cable television show. Nelson pointed out the house in Wayne County weighs 50,000 to 60,000 pounds, which means you have to do some precise engineering since it is hanging from trees. They use various techniques to make sure the houses are flexible and can adapt to tree growth. Nelson said it isn't how high the trees grow, but how much more girth they gain. He said the techniques are similar to those used in building in earthquake zones where the buildings have to move. In the case of treehouses, it's the wind which is the biggest factor to consider. The big step "No, no, no," was Nelson's answer when asked if he had considered television to showcase treehouse and for his career. In fact, Nelson said he resisted but was convinced by Stiletto, the production company, it would be the best way to showcase treehouses on a national platform. "They convinced me it was kind of a TV thing," said Nelson. He also said adding the television element meant he wanted to do nothing but top-quality work. "I didn't want to be half-assed on it," said Nelson. And so began his rise to fame, something he now enjoys. "I love it," said Nelson of getting recognized in airports and other public places. "And I am so grateful I get to tell our story." Nelson also looks at it in other ways. He says building treehouses "gets kids and adults out in the woods," something he feels is crucial in this electronic age. He also views his role as "educating people through reality TV." That education includes showing people that trees are alive and can adapt and thrive with treehouses — and people who tend to those houses. That is certainly the case in Wayne County, where Nelson has made a huge impact for one family — and has built their "Temple" to end all temples.