If you’re passionate about the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, then here’s where you can find a little slice of The Shire to escape to: Trout Creek, Montana. A local couple, Steve and Christine Michaels, have built a replica hobbit house on a 20-acre plot landscaped to resemble the idyllic Shire of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The Hobbit House started out as a dome-shaped guest house for friends and family of the Michaels. As the story goes, the contractor’s son paid a visit to the site and remarked that the guest house resembles a hobbit house. It was this observation that sparked the Michaels’ quest to create a first-class hobbit experience. Steve has admitted to an addictive personality and once the idea of creating the Hobbit House entered his head, there would be no stopping him until every little detail was accounted for. The Hobbit House homepage pays tribute to another notorious perfectionist, Walt Disney, with a quote that sums up the Steve’s modus operandi: “Obsession with detail.”
The Hobbit House is the only available accommodation on the Shire and costs $245 per night. True to the hobbit lifestyle, the house is a hole in the ground, but “not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat,” as the opening lines of The Hobbit specify. Comfort is of great importance to a hobbit and the Michaels made sure that the Hobbit House would satisfy the demands of Bilbo Baggins himself. The house is a single 1000-square-foot dome that was built right into a hillside. Before the notion of a hobbit theme ever occurred to the Michaels, the focus was on energy efficiency. That effort has been carried through to the final Hobbit House where minimal energy is required to heat the house in the winter or keep it cool in the summer. You can view photos of the entire construction process here.
Getting all the details right was the top priority and to do so, a whole army of artisans was called upon. The Michaels do each justice by listing their name and contribution on the Hobbit House website. Some of the custom pieces commissioned for the Hobbit House include windows etched with scenes from The Hobbit, old style lamps, Gandalf lampshades, and a Dwight Eberly painting titled, Earth Mother. They have, however, added a few items not included in Tolkien’s story. In case you’re in the mood to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy during your stay, you can do so in Blu-ray format on a 40” flat screen set up with HD-TV. You’ll also have access to high speed WiFi, XM Radio, a designer kitchen, and a gas barbeque on the deck. Alas, there is no cell phone reception to be found on the Shire, but the house is equipped with telephones or you can drive 2.5 miles down the road to tap into the network.
There are many other dwellings on The Shire, though the “residents” keep to themselves. Take a stroll across The Shire and you will encounter Bilbo Baggins’ House, a Hillside Hobbit house, a couple of Standard Hobbit Homes, a Troll House made with a 700-year-old redwood stump, a tiny Elf House, and even smaller Fairy houses. Beyond The Shire, the Cabinet Mountains and Whitepine Valley provide a scenic backdrop. While the remote location has kept things pretty quiet around The Shire, the Michaels have high hopes that the release of Peter Jackson’s two-part adaption of The Hobbit in 2012 will inspire pumped-up fans to make the journey to the Hobbit House of Montana.