'Mega treehouse' in Newberry Twp. brings out inner child, has recycling story to tell
When Jon Seele's son asked him to build a treehouse, Seele took the idea and ran. Three years later, he has a "mega treehouse" to show for it. York Dispatch
Whether it’s the shingles from a former Schuylkill County covered bridge or the brand-new windows tossed aside by homeowners who didn't want them, 42-year-old Newberry Township resident Jon Seele has a story for almost every inch of his “mega treehouse.”
The three-floor treehouse was constructed using 80 percent to 90 percent recycled materials, Seele noted. The project, which began three years ago because his then 10-year-old son Jaden asked for a treehouse, is nearly complete, he confirmed.
The self-proclaimed “nature nut” said he wanted his son and his daughter Mia to know they can use material that someone else has thrown away toward accomplishing something magnificent.
“I wanted to show them what recycling can do for the world,” he said.
Seele had up to 15 volunteers helping him with the project, he said. Renee Healy, his childhood neighbor and now his next-door neighbor, joined in the effort.
“(Jon) would give me assignments to help find items,” Healy said. “I would be driving down the road and contact him because I just passed by a door or windows that someone had out at the side of the road.”
Healy, 41, bought her lifelong friend a wooden sign — “Be in a tree – Pete Nelson” — she said, referring to the television show "Treehouse Masters," which is what inspired Jaden to ask for the treehouse.
The only way Jaden was going to get his treehouse was if he dug a hole in the middle of three shagbark hickory trees to hold the house together, Seele said.
“He did it in two days,” Seele emphasized.
Healy admitted she and her kids — 8-year-old Gavin and 7-year-old Kinley — would set up chairs and wrap themselves in a blanket to watch the construction.
“They helped with staining boards and scrubbing the tube slide,” she said.
Besides the tube slide, which doubles as a water slide, the treehouse features a zip line, a spiral staircase and a fireman’s pole. Eventually, Seele said, the first floor will have an operating kitchen that is self-sustaining.
“The gutters will catch the (rain) water, which will go through a filter system, and that will go through where the kitchen will be,” he explained.
If something wasn’t donated, Seele said, he’d find materials on Craigslist.
“What was really cool, is while I was doing this, I would show pictures,” he said. “I think it would bring the inner child out of people. They would say, ‘Yes, I would love to help you to get this accomplished.'”
Seele’s own out-of-pocket spending, he estimated, ranged between $5,000 and $8,000.
“I asked the township if I needed a permit,” he added. “I’m just waiting for them to show up any day to inspect it.”
Each floor is 100 square feet, he explained. Only one tree has two bolts that add to the structural integrity of the treehouse. He said he built it that way to manage wind gusts, which were clocked as high as 26.4 mph this year in the area.
But that didn't stop him from building more "deck space than living space," Seele said.
The third floor needed two decks, he explained. One faces the front of his property and the other faces the rear of his property. Golfers at a nearby golf course heckled him while he was building the roof, he said.
Soon, he said, he'll be able to heckle the golfers back.