Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tucker's Treehouse

A treehouse assailed by the elements and the government, now gone. 

Sorry, Tucker's Treehouse is permanently closed.

Update: After a long legal battle with the City, and his children grown, Mark Tucker dismantled the famous treehouse in 2015.

Built in a residential backyard, Tucker’s Treehouse is a multi-story wonder that was built on a vow from a father to a son, but unfortunately the ramshackle treehouse may have been more livable than any of the actual properties that Tucker ran. 

Once upon a time, Mark Tucker promised his son Ross that he would build him a treehouse. Unfortunately, as is often the case with fathers and sons, the two eventually had a falling out and Ross left, leaving Mr. Tucker with nothing but his vow. Suddenly determined to complete the treehouse he had promised his son, Tucker built a seven-story wooden fort among the hefty branches of the tree behind his house, dubbing the impressive build, Ross’s Lookout. The gesture was so moving that Tucker’s son actually came home. Unfortunately the city planners in St. Louis Park were not so charmed by Tucker’s project.

Almost immediately the treehouse was deemed unsafe by the city and Tucker was told to take it down. However Tucker would not be bullied by a simple government mandate. He quickly took legal action against the city, trying to fight the order. Neighbors rallied to Tucker’s side, producing a petition with almost 2,000 signatures, and helped take care of the mounting legal costs. After 10 months of court proceedings about the treehouse, the city finally decided that if Tucker could get the treehouse up to legal code and have the tree health regularly checked, it could stay. No further building was allowed and it could not be opened to the public, but it seemed that this heartwarming father’s dream had stood up to the man and won. Alas, many did not see it this way. 

According to a 1987 New York Times piece, while Tucker’s Treehouse gained national media attention during its legal trials, a number of voices began appearing accusing Tucker of being a poor landlord in the city, spending on his son’s treehouse while his tenants lived in squalor. Between 1983 and 1987 alone Tucker was convicted of 14 housing code violations, and was even jailed for renting condemned properties to tenants. Despite these facts, Tucker was continually painted as a brave David to the city of St. Louis Park’s Goliath.

Regardless of his public perception, Tucker’s Treehouse remained and grew in popularity among treehouse enthusiasts. It was not until a 2014 windstorm that tore roughly half of the structure from the boughs that the treehouse was seriously imperiled.    

Know Before You Go

It's down. Only the tree stands.