Many have heard mysterious stories from their childhood that instill fear or trepidation. The urban legend of Hobbitville, Utah, captures the imagination.
Is it true that gnomes and hobbits lived in dwarf houses here for decades, chasing children who trespassed in this colorful world of exotic birds, offbeat artwork, and cryptic messages?
Or was this just the musings of private residents of Hobbitville, who wished to keep visitors at bay with contrived stories? Let’s learn more about this quirky side of Salt Lake City.
Where Is Hobbitville in Utah?
Hobbitville does exist in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. But it also is a state of mind for thousands of children growing up in the city. Sugar House is now a hip and trendy region in the southeast corner of the state’s capital city.
Hobbitville originated from an eight-acre estate called Allen Park that sits in the middle of Sugar House, Utah. Doctor Gregory Allen purchased the parcel back in 1931, building his home and practice there during the Great Depression. Many knew Dr. Allen as a generous practitioner who never turned away a patient.
But the good doctor also loved exotic birds and animals of all kinds. It became the norm to see elephants, chimpanzees, reindeer, and peacocks wandering around his estate. In fact, he eventually helped found Hogle Zoo and the Tracy Aviary in the area.
He eventually built several small homes around the property to sustain his two favorite causes. He would rent them to professors, hippies, students, and artists. The residents would joke about the small dwelling with child-sized appliances and spaces.
Dr. Allen passed away, and the estate became abandoned. Thus the stories of unusual animals, the small dwarf-like homes, and strange mosaic pictures became the basis for scary stories of gnomes and hobbits taking over. This came when J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy stories rose in popularity, making hobbits a household creature.
Why Is It Called Hobbitville?
Once hobbits were rumored to inhabit Allen Park, scaring trespassers and chasing them down for dinner, kids fearful for their lives began avoiding the area. The stories increased, eventually giving the estate the new name of Hobbitville.
As most of its residents finally moved out, the tales became an urban legend for this charming area in the city. This gave Hobbitville a more abandoned appearance and fed the mysterious stories.
Traveler’s Tip: Let your imagination run wild with these strange urban legends in Utah.
What Can You Do in and Near Hobbitville?
The Sugar House region of Salt Lake City encompasses Hobbitville/Allen Park. It has become a trendy neighborhood with breweries, sports bars, galleries, and indie boutiques. This scenic area sits at the base of the mountains.
Additionally, you can visit the old Sugar House Prison, which is now a park with a huge pond. Walking trails abound in nearby Hidden Hollow Nature Walk as well. The city has purchased Hobbitville, and you can now walk its streets seven days a week from dawn to dusk.
Did Little People Live in Hobbitville, Utah?
To our knowledge, no little people lived in Hobbitville. But the houses Dr. Allen built and rented to locals were small and dwarf-like, with small appliances.
However, Allen Park housed exotic animals, such as the three peacocks named Jeremy, Ratchet, and Caw and a wild turkey named Gobbler.
Hobbitville became a central meeting place of many counterculture devotees at the height of its popularity. Artists, university professors, and students rented many of the dwarf homes, embracing the unique atmosphere that Dr. Allen had created. Allen Park built a reputation as a charming yet somewhat unusual destination.
But with the death of many in the Allen family over the years, the remaining residents were evicted. The bank put the property up for sale in 2019. So no one has lived in Hobbitville, Utah, since that time.
But thank goodness Salt Lake City stepped in to keep Allen Park from being demolished and redeveloped. The city is now renovating structures, and currently, the general public can enjoy the grounds as a city park.
When Did Hobbitville Become a Public Park?
In early 2020, Salt Lake City purchased the property at Allen Park, deciding to turn the urban legend of Hobbitville into a public space for all to enjoy. They opened the acreage in October of the same year. The buildings need renovations before they become ready for public use.
As of 2022, the city is completing a Cultural Landscape Report on the acreage as volunteer staff continues landscape cleanup and maintenance. The city has also made plans to upgrade the small duplexes, starting with removing some appliances this summer. All this is to prepare the property for use by Salt Lake City residents.
Do People Live in Allen Park, Utah?
Residents of Allen Park left in 2019 when the property went up for sale. The bank evicted everyone living in the small residences, but the estate’s population had already begun to dwindle.
Salt Lake City plans to renovate and open the buildings with the park for people to visit a unique part of the city’s history.
Is It Worth Visiting Hobbitville in Allen Park?
Now that Hobbitville is open to a curious public, it has become a popular destination for Salt Lake City visitors and former residents of Allen Park.
It has become a unique location created by a generous man who shared his love of wild animals, art, and people with quirky homes, birds, and mosaics. Hobbitville is worth visiting to see where man’s imagination can take you. And you just might encounter a hobbit or two.