The Pismo Beach treehouse was ‘pretty scary’ to live in

A $3.8million ‘tree house’ was quietly put up for sale in Pismo Beach last month, but it didn’t take long for it to go viral on Twitter thanks to popular account Zillow Gone Wild – not least because, as its title suggests, it’s wrapped around a living oak tree which has left many users wondering about all the horrible bugs it must be bringing inside the bizarre property, almost Lynchian. According to the house’s former tenant, photographer Christopher Petro, he faced major “risk” issues that still scare him to this day.

On more than 6 acres and 5,000 square feet, the daring 9-bedroom, 8-bathroom property features a “big museum with a studio”, a “carriage house” and a man-made cave of 60ft that Petro describes as “pretty freaking fucking king. The house, which looks more like Spahn Ranch than a ‘canyon retreat’, was built in the 1960s by a man named Dick Skeen and is said to have remained in the same family for decades.

Although little is known about its history, a few press reports speak of the “Good Old Days Museum”, which was once a theater and an antique store. While he enjoyed living on the quirky property, Petro said he’s also experienced his fair share of unique issues. The coastal oak, which wraps around the staircase in the middle of its unit, brought in a slew of rodents and insects.

“There was an ungodly number of roly-polites. Hundreds and hundreds of them,” he said over the phone, practically shouting. “It was disgusting. I would lift my couch and there would be like 2,000 [dead pill bugs].”

The tree, which had reportedly begun to rot, also brought in rodents that would use it to enter the laundry room and downstairs as a sort of conduit, Petro said. He also said he saw termite droppings and millipedes, and when he opened the door to the man-made cave, he discovered “a village of spiders just lounging in there.” To his horror, when he lifted his sheets one night, he saw that many of them were also in his bed. There was also a room in the property that for some reason was filled with “soulless, creepy, Annabelle-like dolls.”

Christopher Petro said the house was perfect for hosting murder-themed mystery parties.

Christophe Petro

But nothing compared to the windstorms that rocked the house at night. One evening as he walked out of the house, which was already rocking back and forth, he saw 100-foot-tall sugar pines swaying dangerously close to the property, Petro said. “And I was like, fk this,” he said. “It’s really f-king scary. I really hope one of them doesn’t fall out tonight. Shortly after, he curled up in a fetal position and forced himself to sleep, that’s when he heard one fall to the ground. Fortunately, he missed his car and his unit.

But it wasn’t always scary. Looking back, Petro said he still has many fond memories of the treehouse. In addition to hosting murder mystery parties and entertaining guests, he lived there at a pivotal time in his life: it was where he resided when his parents died and when he survived cancer. It was also a place that allowed him to tap into his creativity. Her photography account – which primarily focuses on capturing the natural beauty of the Central Coast – now has around 25,000 social media followers.


Petro, who currently lives in a much more conventional home, doesn’t regret his experience, although he says he feels like living outside most of the time. “The joys of the treehouse make me realize that in the long run, if you want to rent a treehouse, you don’t want to own the treehouse because of all the upkeep, all that.”

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