JRR Tolkien fan? Then Hobbit to Montana where a man has created a 1,000sq-ft themed guest house based on the books
By Rachel Quigley
Last updated at 4:25 AM on 12th August 2011
Peter Jackson's hotly-anticipated movie The Hobbit is not out until 2012 - but that doesn't mean fans have to wait for a taste.
For a Montana man has created a 1,000sq-ft Hobbit-themed guest house for those who love the J.R.R Tolkien books and characters like Bilbo Baggins.
Steve Michaels' Hobbit house is situated in northwest Montana about a three-hour drive from Spokane, Washington.
Pocket-size: A Montana man has created a 1,000sq-ft Hobbit-themed guest house for those who love the hit J.R.R Tolkien books and characters
Dreamland: Steve Michaels' Hobbit house is situated in northwest Montana about a three-hour drive from Spokane, Washington, and built into a hill on a 20-acre plot
It is built into a hill on a 20-acre plot and features a tree-stump shaped troll house, several round door hobbit houses and also some small fairy houses.
Mr Michaels, 63, spent $410,000 to build the property and rents it out for $245 a night.
Mr Michaels and his wife Christine garnered regional and national attention when they completed construction of their Hobbit Home.
Mr Michaels said: 'We accommodate more than just Hobbits inhabiting this Shire. We also have an entire company of elves, fairies, and even trolls who have their own 700 year-old Troll House made from a Cedar tree so large, you can even step inside.'
Mr Michaels, a JRR Tolkien fan, wanted to build an imaginative vacation getaway for his family but when a friend pointed out that it resembled a Hobbit house, he decided to incorporate the images and characters found in Tolkien’s book and the project took on a new life.
Fit for a hobbit: The house features a tree-stump shaped troll house, several round door hobbit houses and also some small fairy houses
Charge: Mr Michaels, 63, and his wife Christine, spent $410,000 to build the property and they rent it out for $245 a night, complete with costumes for guests
He said: 'If you are into Hobbits then the Hobbit House of Montana is a place for you to visit. At the time I had no idea that there are Hobbit clubs and loyal followers like Trekies from Star Trek, who live and breathe Hobbit and know these stories inside and out.'
There are granite counters in the kitchen, elaborate lighting and a Harmony audiovisual system. A gold ring, which figures prominently in hobbit lore, hangs from a rafter.
The rustic wooden furniture is custom-made, and the headboards are embedded with the Hobbit House logo, a hobbit door with a red light - and on the headboards, it’s a real red light.
There is one king bedroom and a small, hobbit guestroom. It also comes with XM Radio, flat screen HD-TV and a Blu-Ray CD player with a library of books and CDs about hobbits.
It is also entirely underground and there is no cell phone service.
Authentic: The rustic wooden furniture is custom-made, and the headboards are embedded with the Hobbit House logo, a hobbit door with a red light - and on the headboards
Guests can also slip into authentic-looking garb like the one-size-fits-all hairy hobbit feet, an authentic, hand-made Gandalf wizard hat and walking staff and a large slingshot used by the trolls.
These props are available to guests free of charge as are the books and CDs for guests to read or listen to the tale again.
Hobbits Abound in Montana
Steve and Chris Michaels garnered regional and national attention when they completed construction of their Hobbit Home in Trout Creek, Montana. “But we accommodate more than just Hobbits inhabiting this Shire,” says Steve. “We also have an entire company of elves, fairies, and even trolls who have their own 700 year-old Troll House made from a Cedar tree so large, you can even step inside...if you dare!
The Hobbit idea didn’t initially occur to Steve as he was originally building an imaginative vacation get--away for he and his family. Steve's projects have always won public admiration, but this one seemed to lack a bit of luster in his mind until the light bulb finally lit up! It came to him when his contractor, Stan Hamm, said that it resembled a Hobbit House, and his wife, Jamie, enthusiastically agreed. Jamie has read all the Tolkien books, including the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy and is well versed on the finer details of the tales. With photos of a Hobbit House built in Wales that Stan’s son sent to him the Michaels began incorporating the images and characters found in JRR Tolkien’s book in earnest and the idea transformed and the project took on a new life.
“If you are into Hobbits then the Hobbit House of Montana is a place for you to visit”, says Steve. “At the time I had no idea that there are Hobbit clubs and loyal followers like Trekies from Star Trek, who live and breathe Hobbit and know these stories inside and out.” As the project moved along, it was not without detail oriented research that the imaginative structures and characters materialized into a magical story land encompassing a select tourism market. Out of respect to many followers, the Michaels have incorporated some of the characters into this overnight adventure including Frodo, Bilbo and Gandalf. Bilbo Baggins, the lovable and captivating character who is a reluctant member of an adventure that will forever change his life and the lives of those around him, is on site. He accompanies 13 dwarves on a mission to reclaim the gold and mountain kingdom of their ancestors from the dragon. Bilbo’s house can be seen here in all its glory, including the sign on his fence which reads, “No Admittance except on Party Business”.
Steve incorporated the story of a troll who was confused by the Wizard Gandalf and subsequently was caught in the sunlight and then turned to stone. This stone, which comes all the way from Bali, is represented by a natural 2000 pound rock that the hobbits symbolically chiseled into a bench over the next 600 years and is displayed in front of the Troll house for that perfect photo opportunity.
The sheer delight of The Hobbit magic can be included in visitors’ photo memories by slipping into in authentic-looking garb like the one-size-fits-all hairy hobbit feet (remember that hobbits don’t wear shoes and have large, hairy feet), an authentic, hand-made Gandalf wizard hat made true to life with other accessories such as a walking staff and large slingshot used by the trolls to create a custom, personalized photo. These props are available to guests free of charge while journaling memories and taking photographs of each other --inside the Troll House or sitting on the Troll stone bench. The entire countryside is filled with various hobbit houses and other assorted fairy structures that will enable you to vividly recall the charm of the book you read back in the 50’s. If you haven't had the pleasure to read these tales, the book and CD’s will be available to our guest. If you are confirmed affection ado of hobbits, you will definitely be influenced at Montana's Hobbit House to let go of your own reality and engage in this world of fantasy!
The hobbit village comes to life at night with the magical display of lights from the cavalcade of mushrooms that line Hobbit Lane to the lighted mural of a whole Hobbit Village. The excitement is heightened when these fairy structures begin to light up one after the other at dusk. If you are really lucky...and quiet, you may see the shadow of Bilbo Baggins or catch a glimpse of him at home as he likes to stay up nights drinking ale and entertaining his friends from the Shire.
Steve Michaels is one of those guys who have always had his head in the clouds... literally. You see, he flies an ultralight he refers to as his “Flying Machine” which is technically called a “Powered Parachute”. Aloft there, he communes with nature while surveying his 100 acre alpaca ranch and playing hide-&-go-seek with the resident Bald Eagle named Baldwin. Steve has a very vivid imagination and has designed a whole village including round Hobbit Holes built into the side of the hills complete with round doors with door knobs in the center of the doors. And of course these Hobbit Holes wouldn’t be complete without windows which come to life at night. There are Troll Houses and Mines that go deep into the earth which house these ugly creatures who happen to be shape shifters along with Fairy Stumps that offer everything you would expect from the mind of JRR (John Ronald Reuel) Tolkien, a master storyteller whose depth of skill is best seen in this tale and his trilogy about Hobbits. To venture into this village for a weekend is surely an experience of a lifetime.
Steve has the uncanny ability to grab onto an idea and run with it to the ninth degree. “I’ve never had so much fun letting my imagination just run wild. I’ll wake up at night with a new idea and can’t wait to meet with the contractor in the morning to start implementing it,” says Steve. And all the while, it is bringing entertainment and enchantment to friends stopping by whose first words are “WOW”! When they see all of the elaboration on the hillside but then have a double “WOW” when they go inside. Crossing over the threshold of the Hobbit Guest Cottage leaves them totally speechless. This cozy Hobbit House is sheltered under the earth that incorporates specialty items like Gandalf lamp shades and etched wizard doors. Imaginative, creative, and one huge masterpiece for generations to come.
Christine Michaels, Steve’s wife, is more grounded than her husband and oversees the gardens and affairs of the Sprites and Fairies in the area. She knew from reading The Hobbit many years ago that hobbits like mushrooms so she commissioned a local artist to build over a dozen, large, luminescent mushrooms to light Hobbit Lane as the guests drive up into the Shire. And since hobbits like to eat at least six times a day, Chris has made it a point to share a special treat with each guest upon their arrival... a very large and distinctive Trollhouse cookie made with special fairy dust and hobbit ingredients to give it that one-of-a-kind, unmistakable taste that you’ll never forget. Chris also made sure that the kitchen is well equipped including a barbeque grill located on the deck outside the hobbit house. The entire Hobbit Village overlooks their scenic Whitepine Alpaca Ranch which boasts an old fashioned, red barn that was built in 1918 and a pond that brings in a myriad of waterfowl including Baldwin the resident Bald Eagle, blue herons and many diving ospreys who dine on the Cutthroat trout living in the Michaels’ pond. Guests have also seen deer, elk, and moose swimming in the pond, coyotes, and mountain lions along with the occasional bear or wolf.
Movie lovers, fans of small, furry-footed humanoids, and nerds of every persuasion have been salivating for years over any tiny morsel of gossip and speculation regarding the big-budget adaptation of The Hobbit. “Being in the right place at the right time is everything” says Steve, as it seems that our Hobbit House may coincide with the new release of the movie by the same name. The latest report mentions that the film is still up in the air but may possibly start filming in the later part of 2010 in New Zealand. Apparently there are discussions underway to determine whether "The Hobbit" will be shot in 3-D or not. Now, granted, there is no firm start date for production “But any Hobbit news is good Hobbit news, right?” says Mr. Michaels.
The Shire has been visited locally by KXLY and their Explorer Series crew from Spokane, WA. the worldwide program from MTV’s “Extreme Cribs” and the NY Times.
The 1000 square foot Guest Cottage comes complete with one king bedroom and a very small, hobbit guest bedroom in case one of the guests happens to snore a little. It also comes with XM Radio, flat screen HD-TV and a Blu-Ray CD player with a library of books and CDs about hobbits. There’s even a wood burning stove for those rare chilly nights. They don’t happen often since the cottage stays a constant 55 degrees because it’s entirely underground. Phone service is available but you must bring your own calling card for the land line as there is NO cell service in and among the Hobbits as it disrupts their ability to ponder and relax.
With the largest Whitepine tree in all of Montana, the Hobbit House of Montana is available year round with the rates starting at $245 per night with a two night minimum on weekends and holidays and must be guaranteed with a major credit card. Because of the intimate details and hand crafted displays, no pets are allowed.