The Treehouse - Monticello
Story circa January 18th, 1997 | View Post


Blake Ledet and David Spencer standing in front of Monticello
Perhaps one of the most interesting adventures I have ever been apart of was constructing a four-story tree house on the bayou banks of Ft. Bend County, Texas. The tree house stood 55 feet from top to bottom.

We began construction of the tree house, which was later named Monticello, in January of 1997. It sat about one half mile to the north of Beck Middle School. Estimating about 4 to 5 hours of work per day, 7 days a week, it only took a few weeks until Monticello had multiple rooms, was entirely framed in, had sleeping quarters, a shingled roof, was water tight, and walls full of pornography. Shortly after it became a regular spot for dozens of our close friends to throw parties at. In high school, that was quite a luxury.

Constructing Monticello - Phase I

The construction of Monticello began in early January of 1997. The spot had originally been discovered by a friend of mine, Aaron Duke, and the original construction crew consisted of Aaron Duke, Daniel Putt, and myself. It wasn't long before I decided this was a great project and was going to require a great deal of time on our parts. Aaron was knee deep in high school and Putt was in the middle basketball season; both were inhibited from dedicating the necessary time to the project. Since I was a senior and football season was already over, I was really just counting down the months until graduation. One afternoon I took two of my other good friends, Blake Ledet and David Spencer, to see the site. The size of the tree definitely impressed them. Since they were both heavily into construction projects, it wasn't hard to get them on-board.


From left to right, me, Blake, and David posing from the top of the tree house.

In the first few days we simply created a platform on the tree, just as you would expect from any tree house. I don't think there was ever really a grand plan, but it was so much fun working out in the woods that we decided to go all out. In the next few days we each took on our own separate tree house projects. The general idea was for each of us to construct a room (more or less) thus growing the tree house very quickly. One of us built a balcony, another of us built a sitting deck, and one of us built sleeping quarters.

Once we had each completed these individual tasks, we began focusing on the sleeping quarters (an expansion of the original platform that had been created). We decided that the only proper way to make the treehouse water tight would be to frame it a la traditional framing standards. We laid down the lateral 2x4s on the platform and erected a series of 2x4s about 16 inches apart, each properly fastened to the baseboard. Plywood was harder for us to cut at the treehouse so most of the measurements were taken and the ply was cut back at our houses. Once we had it ready to go, we would bring it out there and attach it to the framed sleeping quarters. The back wall consisted of some plywood, some industrial plastic crates, and a giant road sign that read "Prison Area - Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers" (another interesting story). With the sleeping quarters completely encompassed by walls and the additional deck and balcony attached, Monticello was beginning to take shape.

Gathering Supplies

Many people have asked over the years, where did the supplies for Monticello come from? Naturally most people think we stole the wood, but that's actually not true at all. Since we lived in a rather suburban area, there were constantly new subdivisions being constructed. The houses always had enormous piles of scrap wood sitting around. Rather than stealing good wood, we would instead ask the foreman of the house if we could take from the scrap piles. We were always granted permission and it made for an excellent CYA should someone ever question what we were doing. By exclusively combing scrap piles, we were able to get plywood, drywall, 2x4s, large wooden beams, even shingles and occasionally nails. The only thing we paid for out of pocket were some additional boxes of nails. And of course we all had our own hammer.

Constructing Monticello - Phase II


Blake taking a break in the sleeping quarters. It comfortably slept three people.
It didn't take us long to complete the initial design of Monticello. The only problem was that we were still having such a good time with it that we didn't want to quit.

One afternoon while going through some scrap piles, we came across the cut out of a staircase that had not been used. Most likely it was designed for the construction crew to get around more easily. We took the staircase cutout and immediately built it into the treehouse. This opened the design scheme up to a 2nd, 3rd, and eventually even a 4th floor (though only the 2nd floor was actually accessible via traditional stairs).

The staircase was lined with 2x6s that we had found and cut to fit. The steps led to a small platform that allowed the person to climb their way to the 2nd floor. A few months earlier the local movie theater was getting rid of their promotional "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" cutouts. I had taken them and had them on my bedroom ceiling before an opportunity to use them for a greater cause presented itself. We stapled them to the wall next to the staircase.

Once the 2nd floor had been nailed down, a 3rd floor was built above it. It did not have nearly the structural integrity as the 1st and 2nd floors did, but it was still well supported. The 3rd floor had a heavy roof laid upon it with 2x6s. It wasn't watertight as the single pieces of wood had small gaps between them, but it provided shade from the sun. The roof was strong enough to support people and thus effectively led to the 4th floor (though the 4th floor was nothing but a platform).

Final Additions

Once everything was more or less constructed on the tree house, we began creating a camping ground for people to sit around, eat, cook, and drink. Naturally this required a nice campfire pit. Since the tree house was constructed along a local bayou, there were plenty of giant concrete rocks around that we could transport for the fire pit. We dug a hole about 8 feet in diameter and a few feet deep. Giant bayou rocks were laid around the fire. It was a daunting task to pickup the rocks from the bayou, walk them up the slope, and then another 100 or so meters to the actual camping ground. And to make matters worse, since the campfire was so large, the project required quite a few of these rocks. I distinctly remember the process taking the three of us many, many hours.

In addition to the campfire, we built benches, tables, and just about anything else that we could think of for people to sit around on. We even went so far as to bring a chainsaw out there one afternoon and cut down more than enough trees to keep us warm in the cold Texas nights of January and February. We brought lawnmowers and weed-eaters to designate pathways and otherwise created one hell of a venue for our friends to party at.


One of our parties out at the tree house on February 22, 1997.

Newest Albums


Recent Posts
Equipment Layout
Preparing to be a pin cushion
Preparing for a World Adventure
Chasing After a Hit-and-Run Suspect
Off-loading Terabytes of Videos to YouTube
Configuring ImageMagick RAW Delegates with DCRAW and UFRAW-Batch
The most amazing server uptime!
Baba O'Riley with Ghost of Paul Revere
Workshopping "Tired of Trying" with The Ghost
Acoustic Looping with a Violin Bow


Blog Archives
Recent Posts
July 2017 ( 3 )
December 2016
November 2016
November 2015
October 2015
March 2015 ( 3 )
January 2015
October 2014
September 2014 ( 4 )
August 2014 ( 6 )
July 2014 ( 7 )
June 2014 ( 8 )
May 2014 ( 3 )
April 2014 ( 2 )
February 2014
January 2014 ( 4 )
December 2013 ( 4 )
November 2013 ( 2 )
September 2013
August 2013 ( 3 )
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013 ( 2 )
March 2013 ( 2 )
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012 ( 4 )
October 2012 ( 2 )
September 2012 ( 4 )
August 2012
July 2012 ( 8 )
June 2012
May 2012 ( 6 )
April 2012 ( 7 )
March 2012 ( 4 )
February 2012 ( 5 )
January 2012 ( 4 )
December 2011 ( 5 )
November 2011 ( 2 )
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011 ( 5 )
July 2011 ( 6 )
June 2011 ( 2 )
May 2011 ( 3 )
April 2011 ( 3 )
March 2011 ( 2 )
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010 ( 2 )
November 2010 ( 2 )
September 2010
August 2010
June 2010
March 2010
February 2010 ( 3 )
November 2009
June 2009
May 2009 ( 3 )
April 2009
March 2009 ( 2 )
February 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
May 2008 ( 2 )
March 2008
January 2008
December 2007
July 2007 ( 2 )
June 2007 ( 2 )
May 2007
December 2006
October 2006 ( 3 )
July 2006
May 2006 ( 2 )
April 2006
December 2005
October 2005
September 2005 ( 5 )
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005 ( 3 )
May 2005
April 2005
December 2004
November 2004 ( 6 )
May 2004
February 2004 ( 3 )
January 2004
December 2003 ( 9 )
November 2003 ( 5 )
August 2003
July 2003 ( 15 )
June 2003
September 2002
August 2002
May 2002
April 2002
December 2001 ( 2 )
July 2001
April 2001 ( 3 )
February 2001 ( 5 )
November 2000
September 2000
May 2000 ( 2 )
March 2000 ( 2 )
December 1999
November 1999 ( 3 )
October 1999 ( 5 )
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999 ( 8 )
June 1999 ( 2 )
May 1999 ( 3 )
April 1999
March 1999
December 1998
November 1998 ( 2 )
October 1998 ( 3 )
September 1998
July 1998 ( 2 )
June 1998
April 1998
March 1998
November 1997
October 1997 ( 2 )
March 1997
February 1997
January 1997
November 1995
September 1995 ( 2 )
Complete Listing