It's not a tree house, it's a tree home
The Swiss Family Robinson may have a northwoods counterpart in the Wadena family Line.
Will and Peggy's east Wadena lofty tree house got the most publicity in the early to mid 2000s shortly after it was built, but they still offer free tours and have the house available for overnight rental.
"It's good for your soul to go see it," Peggy said. "There's a peace to it, and a fun - a stretch your imagination kind of thing."
"We didn't expect to get as much interest and recognition as we did," Will said.
Peggy Line described the tree house as originally a relatively simple project for the kids. Previously living in southwest Wadena, the Lines bought the current property and started fixing it up.
At that time, they were in the logging industry with Will's Mills Saw Mill. They decided to build a small tree house - and then that "got out of hand." That meant the tree house is a fully functioning and winterized house with city water, heating, beds, bathroom, kitchen, cable TV and even a hot tub on the wide deck. The only thing they didn't have was a washer and dryer.
"That was our actual house - the tree house. We lived there three years," she said.
Of course, the project got the attention of the neighbors - and eventually a variety of media outlets: newspaper, magazines, television.
"We kind of thought we would build it - because we liked it. And if no one else liked it, that was OK. You finally reach that age where it doesn't matter," Peggy said. "What was surprising and fun was that everybody else liked it too."
Will described the tree house as having all the comforts of home, but still like a camping experience.
Peggy said that because it was simple and low-maintenance, they could return home from work and just relax.
"Just the two of us did it," she said. "Most of our kids said, 'you're building a what?!'"
The tree house has weathered everything that the Minnesota seasons have thrown at them. It was on the other side of town from the June 2010 tornado, and five or six years ago, an 80 mile per hour straight line windstorm had them worried.
"Since then we've reinforced things even more," Will said.
When their daughter Lori moved back in, they moved into their current house with more space on the same property. But they maintain the tree house, which makes for extra space when family or friends arrive to visit.
The tree house is at 525 Colfax Ave. SE, and the Lines can be contacted for tours at (218) 639-8017.