Nestled deep in the Alaskan wilderness is a house…well not just a house, several houses built on top of each other, reaching up to the sky in a quirky tower-like arrangement, affording that perfect view of Mount McKinley; also known by its Athabascan name: Denali, meaning “The Great One”, and the Denali National Park. Mount McKinley is the highest mountain peak in North America with a summit elevation of 20,237 feet or 6,168 metres above sea level. At over 185 feet tall, the house sits near the junction where Goose Creek and the Big Susitna River meet. It is located approximately 130 kilometres from Anchorage, between Willow and Talkeetna.
The house was built after a forest fire, which cleared the space of trees. As you can imagine the view of the mountain and surrounding national park is a spectacle to behold, with breathtaking views of the beautiful scenery. As the forest regenerated and started growing, the owner of this eccentric house decided to build additional layers, up and up above the tree line, to ensure his view of the picturesque landscape was not obscured.
Although made mostly of wood, each storey is surrounded by metal decks. The first level of the home is very much meant to be a living space and features post and beam constructions which have been crafted from giant Douglas fir trees. It has been called the “Dr Seuss House” by the local residents of Willow, because of its remarkable resemblance to structures from Theodore Lesieg’s illustrated stories, although there is no direct relation to the author.
The house, now designated one of America’s architectural wonders, lay abandoned for over a decade, but in 2012, the house was sold to a private owner. Although the house is now on private property and no longer open to public access, it can still be viewed by train; if you ride the Alaska rail line from Anchorage to Fairbanks, you’ll get a good view, or from the air through the services of local Alaskan bush pilots.
During the period where the house was abandoned and empty, thousands of Dr Seuss fans flocked to see this mysterious marvel and take pictures of themselves next to this surreal structure. The potential of this property is unimaginable: from a cosy family home to a delightfully comical Dr Seuss fantasy house. There is an observatory at the very top of the house and several storeys with curious nooks to explore.
Whether it opens to the public in the future is unknown…but if you decide to have an adventure in the wilds of Alaska, or happen to be a Dr Seuss fan in search of the Lorax, or perhaps you are an admirer of architectural wonders, this house should certainly be on your list of places to visit, even if all you can do is catch a glimpse of this whimsical treasure, remember what Dr Seuss said in The Lorax story: “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”
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