Could a Lord Of The Rings/Hobbiton-themed bed and breakfast/resort/retreat be coming to Wisconsin? If one woman AND A BIG “YES” FROM MILWAUKEE RECORD have anything to say about it, the answer is, indeed, “YES.”
Nature and portrait photographer Rebecca Alm has hatched a plan to build an elaborate, eco-friendly “Hobbiton Stay WI” somewhere in the southeast portion of the state. An extremely detailed website describes a “fully functional Hobbiton” filled with “underground dwellings, gardens, a lake, paths through the woods, and more pastoral and fantastical settings.” The so-called “Bed & Second Breakfast” would also include a Green Dragon-esque pub, a Party Tree, on-site actors, a tortoise sanctuary, and concierge service from—you guessed it!—Bill the Pony. Seriously, how many times can we say “YES”?
Now for the “Why?” portion of the article. Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings films were shot in New Zealand, and the Hobbiton movie set has become a wildly popular tourist attraction. Alm sees the same opportunity for Wisconsin:
Six hundred thousand people visit the movie set each year, and each of those lucky people leaves with a sense of wonder and joy. That is why I am building this from the ground up—to bring that feeling home. Even for a short while, the reality of living in Hobbiton fuels the soul and rekindles the spark in our hearts.
And now for the “Where, exactly?” portion of the article. “The general area in our search is an arc from Random Lake to Watertown, in southeast Wisconsin,” Alm explains in a blog post. “The Ice Age Trail and Kettle Moraine preserve swath of the state have many rolling hills and open vistas in which to find our home.” Alm goes on:
We would need a fair amount more room than the movie set in New Zealand, as the hobbit holes will actually be a home you can live in with square footage. Hobbiton movie set has 44 doors, and although they don’t all have their own house behind them, it is still fair to say you could not get 44 800 square foot “minimum” places into the 12-acre lot they use. This will be much more spread out, even if we only start with 22 homes and expand later.
That being said, and with all the requirements below, with today’s construction techniques, it is fair to say we can build hills, and we can dig out a lake, but the one thing we can not build is a majestic mature tree. So that, my friends, is the kicker. In your wanderings If you find such a tree off the beaten path, shoot us the details, so we can look into it.
Alm’s ‘Sconnie Hobbiton dream is currently just that—a dream—but she is looking for financial backers and business partners. “If every Tolkien fan gave $10 towards this project, we could fund, build, and staff it in record time,” she says. Those willing to offer some business acumen (and/or a tree) are encouraged to join the team. Everyone else can keep their secrets.
“Hobbiton Stay WI” isn’t the only gloriously geeky destination planned for Wisconsin. There’s still that D&D-themed “Griffin & Gargoyle” theme park in Lake Geneva, and the J. R. R. Tolkien manuscript exhibition coming to Marquette later this year. What a time to be alive. Anyway, here’s the part where Samwise Gamgee says goodbye to Bill:
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