FARMINGTON, Pa.—A Washington state architect has gone out on a limb at the Summit Inn Golf Course, where he designed a 160-square-foot treehouse being featured this month on TV's Animal Planet.

Pete Nelson and his team from Fall City, along with Summit Inn owner Karen Harris and her family, are included in the second season of the reality series, Treehouse Masters.

The local episode, which is titled Black Bear Bungalow, is set to air at 10 p.m. Jan. 17.

"Treehouses are about escape and getting away from it all... unplugging from everyday life and getting back to nature," said Nelson, 51.

The show follows the crew as they travel the U.S. building "arboreal" structures ranging from $50,000 to more than $300,000.

"My purpose is to show as much information, and they let me show what is that interaction between a living tree and our own creation," said Nelson.

Using 20,000 pounds of material, including oak trees and recycled materials from the Summit Inn, Nelson and his crew spent about six weeks building the treehouse in Wharton Township. The structure was unveiled Nov. 1 to Harris and her family.

Harris' daughter, Kristi Leskinen, said as third generations of the hotel family, she and her sister, Amanda Voithofer, thought the treehouse would be a great addition.

"Bringing something like this to a small (area) like Fayette County seemed really interesting and exciting," said Leskinen.


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Leskinen, a professional skier, said she learned about Nelson's show through her sports agents and decided to contact him.

According to Leskinen, the treehouse also will serve as an attraction to the hotel's hiking and walking trails.

"We just didn't want a treehouse, we wanted a treehouse that was going to capitalize on a spot with our views and add something to the property," said Leskinen.

Nelson said he scoured more than 1,000 acres of the Summit Inn property until finding three oak trees in a clearing spaced apart at good distance for structural support.

According to information from the show, the spot was selected to best serve as an observation area where black bears could be watched as they roamed the property.

Nelson, at first, was reportedly nervous about building in the area of bears, but used his fear as inspiration by "creating his first-ever mid-century decagon treehouse," featuring walls of glass, a wrap-around deck and a bear-cam tracking system.

Inside, the treehouse features a fire place, handmade oak bar and mission-style furniture.

Nelson, owner of Nelson Treehouse and Supply, went from building homes 25 years ago to designing nearly 250 treehouses across the country.

"This is what I chose to do with my life. At first, it was how do I make a living doing this?," said Nelson. "Now, it's how do I get enough information out to everyone?"

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Online:

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Information from: Herald-Standard, http://www.heraldstandard.com/