Most fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have fantasized what it would be like to have a Hobbit home, but Jim Costigan has actually built one. Now he is putting it up for sale.
It is nestled in a pretty little hillside in Pawling, NY in Dutchess County, New York, a couple hours north of New York City. A stream runs through the property. The roof is rounded and covered in grass, with a place to sit and barbecue on top, although I’m not sure that is authentic to the canon. I don’t recall Bilbo throwing some steaks on the grill for Gandalf. “Medium rare, please, Bilbo. There’s a good lad.”
There is the distinctive rounded door, although a conventionally shaped door has been placed into it. I suspect a real, functioning round door is difficult to find, even at Home Depot. I do not see the scratch marks Gandalf made in the door to lead the Thorin Oakenshield and the dwarves there, but then I didn’t get a close look.
The possibilities to rent this place out on Airbnb and cover your mortgage are enticing. How many New Yorkers would love a weekend stay in the Shire, or as close as you can come to it on Metro North? Lots, and unlike the Shire, there is probably pizza delivery. Tolkien was vague on whether the hobbits had that or not, or whether they preferred thin crust or Chicago style. All they eat while traveling is lembas bread made by elves. I guess you could substitute Keebler cookies if you wanted.
Not sure what if any state and local taxes were owed in the actual Shire—Bilbo and Frodo never mention it—but in Dutchess County they’re not cheap. The online sales listing of the hobbit house says they’re about $9,000 a year. Maybe high taxes are why Bilbo left the Shire for Rivendell. In retirement, the taxes drove him out. He left without telling anyone so the IRS couldn’t track him down. Finally, he left for the Grey Havens, really a tax haven, kind of like Florida.
Meanwhile, back in Pawling, the Hobbit home appears unfurnished except for an elvish sword above the fireplace. No storerooms full of food, wine and leftover treasure from Bilbo’s trip to the Lonely Mountain. That’s a bummer, it would be nice to find a ruby or emerald lying around somewhere, to help afford the upkeep. Then you wouldn’t have to rent it out as often. You could just live there and smoke pipe weed all day. I believe New York State intends to decriminalize it soon.
Would you be happy, in your new role as master of Bag End? Hard to say. I would have expectations of hanging around with Sam, throwing a party featuring Gandalf’s fireworks every now and again, maybe traveling to Bree when things got slow and having a beer or two. But real life would eventually set in. You’d have to weed and feed the roof every year, you’d probably hit your head on the curved concrete ceiling a couple times a day, and no doubt people would stop by night and day wanting a look. At night, there would be the possibility of the Nazgûl breaking in to look for the Ring of Power, and trying to kill you to get their bony hands on it. Wait a minute, that’s the book. Living in a hobbit home, it might be easy to get confused. You’d risk losing touch with reality.
Maybe that’s a good reason to buy it.