You Can Visit An Adult-Sized Treehouse in Roseboro
Construction started in 1997 with a single room. Over the next 20 years, a kitchen was added, then a bathroom, then a bar room, a poolroom, VIP area, and another, bigger bar. The original kitchen was remodeled, and another one added, plus a ladies bathroom, dance floor and DJ area, a loft overlooking the dance floor, a stage and dressing room, a screened-in porch, and a massive deck with a second story. In some sense, Buddy Melvin has built a mansion – covering just about 12,000 square feet – and it all centers around a single, enormous tree trunk.
“The tree was in my backyard, and I had always thought about building a treehouse,” says Melvin, a Roseboro resident who was 42 when the idea came to life. “I wanted a treehouse for grown people, for me and my friends to hang out, so that’s what happened.”
Melvin, who works as an in-school suspension facilitator at Roseboro Elementary School, says he had never built anything before or had experience in construction. But a strong drive and sense of optimism pushed him toward his end goal.
“I said, ‘I bet I can build one room.’ And that’s how it all started. It was only supposed to be one room, but as time went on and I saw something else I wanted, I added it,” he says.
Melvin gathered the wood for his treehouse from old tobacco barns and houses in the area. He’d bring it home, clean it up and add it to the treehouse, building new features for 17 of the 18 years spanning from 1997 to 2014.
Walking into the structure is a grown-up’s childhood dream come to life. The rustic tobacco wood offers the feel of nature and the cool darkness of an actual tree, but instead of a lookout tower or rope swing, there’s a finished dance floor, complete with a stocked bar and VIP area.
“My favorite room is the VIP area,” Melvin says. “It looks over the dance floor.”
The two-story structure has comfy couches for sitting and beds for overnight guests. The ladies bathroom even includes a working shower. TVs allow for watching movies and sports, and fun, funky art hangs on the walls, which most of Buddy’s visitors have signed, marking their stay. A wall is dedicated specifically for photos of Melvin’s family, with pictures of his mother, father and his great-grandfather.
“I rent it out for parties and wedding receptions, or family reunions, bachelor parties, cookouts, and even a couple of meetings,” Melvin says.
And though Melvin hosts lots of out-of-town guests that marvel at his creation, the treehouse has meant a lot for the Roseboro community, too.
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“It’s definitely the biggest thing in Roseboro and, from what I’ve read, it’s the largest in the world,” Melvin says. “It has meant a lot to the town. They even did a documentary out of Duke on Roseboro, and my treehouse was one of the things they featured.”
Along with deserving the credit for building the treehouse, Melvin is in charge of all of its upkeep as well – everything from cleaning to managing to repairs. And though he claimed to have hung up his hammer a couple of years ago, the itch to add on to the house has crept back.
“I say I’m done every time,” Melvin says. “I think I’m gonna build a room next month. I’m not sure yet, but that’s my plan.”
– Rachel Bertone
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