The man who lived in trees.

At 61, having just retired from a job as a social worker, Des Moines resident Jack Barnhart decided to build his retirement home—40 feet in the air:
An accomplished woodworker, Barnhart dreamed of building a treehouse - but not one of the scrapped-together versions the word conjures up in most people's minds.

The cozy little cottage he was envisioning would put the Swiss Family Robinson to shame, with two staircases, built-in closets and cabinets, a wet bar, high-quality insulated windows, water and electricity, cable TV and a rooftop patio - not to mention table service for six.

And instead of climbing a ladder from the ground, his treehouse would be accessible by a soaring footbridge, connected to the deck of his home some 65 feet away across a ravine.

It was a level of difficulty that would keep Barnhart grappling with his tree through five years of labor, some $12,000 to $15,000 in materials and many harrowing moments on ladders.

"It would have been difficult to build this thing on the ground, let alone in a tree," he said with obvious relish. "There were times I was nearly hanging by my toenails trying to get the right angle to drive a nail."
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