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 bee 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 voice began appearing accusing Tucker of being one of the worst slumlords in the city, spending countless dollars on saving his son's treehouse while his tenants lived in squalor among roaches, rats, and other vermin. 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. Today, the remaining half of the treehouse is being repaired and is expected to last for decades to come, slumlord or no.
All Image Credits: St. Louis Park Historical Society
Written by Eric Grundhauser, this is a slightly modified version of an article that originally ran on Atlas Obscura, the leading guide to the wondrous and curious places across the earth. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!