Undated photograph

James Talmage “Tokey” Walker developed a strong work ethic at an early age. He delivered newspapers and sorted dirty diapers at the Swan Laundry to save enough money to attend the University of Alabama, where he hoped to earn a law degree. The collapse of the banks during the Great Depression saw his savings and his educational aspirations lost and the direction of his life changed.

Inspired by his father’s cousins, pioneers of southern aviation, he took up flying. During World War II, he served as a civilian flight instructor for the United States Navy at the University of Georgia. He and his wife later moved to Marietta, Ga., where Mr. Walker was a production test pilot for the B-29 bomber.

In October 1945, the Walkers moved to Clearwater at the invitation of the late Robert J. Word, who had been a flight instructor in Georgia. They went into business together, renting and selling airplanes and giving flying lessons. When the government discontinued underwriting the cost of teaching war veterans how to fly, the company was converted and they began constructing window frames out of aluminum.

The business was renamed Metal Industries, now known as J. T. Walker Industries.

'Honky Ranch' Victorian Treehouse | Photo © 2014 Bullet, www.abandonedfl.com




In the 60s, James Walker purchased a plot of land in Brooksville and began raising Charolais cattle, which he later converted into a commercial nursery years later. In the mid-80s, he constructed a massive 3-story tree house on the property for his grandchildren, and included bedrooms, bathrooms and even a kitchen.

Mr. Walker was involved with the Clearwater YMCA and the Lions Club and was a founding member of the Springtime City Kiwanis Club. He was chairman of the Morton Plant Hospital Charity Ball in 1989 and was awarded the Golden Flame Philanthropy Award in 2000 in recognition of the donation he made in memory of his late wife, Sarah, who passed away in 1996.

James Walker passed away in 2003.

After his death, his property in Brooksville was abandoned, though it is still owned by J. T. Walker Industries. The buildings on the property have been vandalized throughout the years, for example, police arrived for training drills to find two men stealing copper wiring in 2007. A few years later, marijuana was found growing inside one of the greenhouses on the property.

On October 11, 2015, it was discovered that the treehouse was torn down, most likely by the owners as it was a huge liability issue.




40 Comments

  1. why dont they just bull doze the place? Problem solved! Big businessess always do that and expect nothing to happen

  2. Wow that place looks amazing!! I’d love to live there!

  3. I’ve been there recently and the vandalism and decay is much worse. Still it’s an amazing place! My photos are on my IG @ ghostseekergirl

  4. Can you get in trouble for just visiting and taking pictures? I live right down the road from there and would love to go but I’m afraid to get in trouble for any reason.

  5. I was there today! The vandalism is pretty bad but it was definitely still worth the trip out there. The tree house looks like something out of a fairy tale.

  6. There were two people out there today that were arrested for trespassing. This is private property.

  7. Half the time the police are not even patrolling the area

  8. this is going to sound like I’m trying to be funny but I’m not don’t try to go out there because the property now has a few ostriches on guardand they will come after you

  9. I was just out that way today…They won’t let anyone on the property because the people who own it have livestock on the grounds. So it’s more of a liability issue. They have had the cops out there several times to get people off the land.

  10. This is private property and is watched by several people. The cops will be and have been called out there if you are caught on this property and trespassing warrants issued. Please remember you can’t just trespass on somebody’s property.

  11. Oh get over it. This place is beautiful, and everyone deserves to see it. Private property, maybe, but don’t be selfish. I understand the vandalism issues, but I’m just as insulted that you let this breath-taking home fall to ruin. Condemn my trespassing to take pictures of this place, but you better believe I’m condemning and judging you for neglecting one of the most lovely places I’ve ever seen

  12. It was built for his dying daughter. Not grandchildten

  13. Laureljohanson4@aol.com

    Wilbur Brindle built that beautiful tree house and we had the pleasure of spending a weekend in it with our children back in the 90s. Just heartbreaking to see it now. :(

  14. I think this should be restored. I’d pay money to visit. Brooksville really needs some sort of attraction. This is something to preserve not let decompose.

  15. I don’t want to trespass but I’m dying to see it, can it be seen without trespassing? I really hope it gets restored and put to good use! If I had 8 million dollars I’d buy it today!

  16. They should sell tours then they won’t have people trespassing as much. It seems stupid just to expect people not to be curious. Can I see it without trespassing on the property? I live really close to brooksville.

  17. It has been torn down.

  18. where exactly is this? Could I get an address?

  19. My company just recently bought this property. We intend to restore the entire property as best we can. In the mean time, in an effort to guard against further vandalism we will be hiring a watchperson and prosecuting people who trespass. It is truly a shame the property was abandoned and even more of a shame that trespassers have vandalized it so thoroughly.

    • You’re still getting trespassers even though the treehouse is gone?

      • Yes, since we bought it a few more pieces of graffiti has appeared. However, there is not much more that can be stolen or vandalized so hopefully we have turned that corner!

        • Oh, I just noticed these. Are you still the recent owners? Does anyone currently live here? It’s very beautiful, and I would absolutely love to do a photoshoot at this location, is there any possible way for that to happen?

  20. I worked at the nursery in the mid-80’s and helped build this tree house. It was not built in the 70’s as the article states. I started working at the nursery in 1985 and left there around 1987. The treehouse was built in that time period. It was designed after a bamboo bird cage that the interior designer for the Walkers had found, and built by their amazing carpenter, Wilbur. The tree house was built for their grandchildren, not their daughter. The Walkers were wonderful people and very friendly to everyone.

  21. I would absolutely love to do a photoshoot at this location. Any possible way the new owners would allow such a thing? Maybe under supervision?