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Future of historic ‘Hobbitville’ uncertain, community urges preservation

A locked fence blocks the entrance of Allen Park, which locals refer to as ‘Hobbitville’ on Jan. 26. After the death of the owner, residents were evicted and the future of the property remains uncertain. (Photo by Joshua Messier)

A locked fence currently blocks the driveway that used to be occupied by roaming peacocks and trespassing teenagers.

After the death of the owner, residents of Allen Park, which locals commonly refer to as ‘Hobbitville,’ were evicted from their homes. With historic and artistic qualities throughout the property, there has been a push for preservation, although what happens next to this unique neighborhood is unclear, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Located across the street from Westminster College on 1300 East, Allen Park was founded in the 1930s by Dr. George Allen. The property began as a bird sanctuary and later formed into a small community of renters as Allen filled the property with relocated homes, according to an article from KUTV.

The property is filled with historic buildings as well as other architectural structures and artwork, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Preservation Utah, a local organization that works with elected officials and administrators to promote and protect historic places across the state, said they had a lot of response from the community regarding the current situation of Allen Park.

A layer of snow blankets the scattered folk art and historic structures throughout the property of Allen Park on Jan. 26. The future ownership of the property is unclear but officials at Preservation Utah said many in the community are urging for its preservation. Time: Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 4:30pm (Photo by Joshua Messier)

“I would say, just anecdotally, that the number of calls and emails we’ve gotten here in the office are more than any other issue I’ve seen in the past few years,” said Kirk Huffaker, executive director of Preservation Utah. “I think there is public sentiment for this place, even though maybe people don’t really understand what’s there. People still have appreciation for it, and are looking to us to help push some solutions that have preservation.”

Huffaker said the future use of the property should continue to recognize its significant and unique qualities, although what happens next is up in the air. With no estate plan, it could be long before something gets settled, so the future of Allen Park remains uncertain, Huffaker said.

“It’s a really complicated process,” Huffaker said. “The property has to go through the court system, through probate, and the court and the judge determine who should be the next in line to own it, what the percentages of ownership are.”

According to some Westminster students, there was a rumor on campus about the college having an interest in purchasing the land.

“We’d love to see it kind of connect with our campus,” said Curtis Ryan, vice president of Finance and Administration at Westminster. “We’re probably just not in the position to dedicate finances toward acquiring it, especially since we don’t own the Garfield school anymore, there’s less of that immediate connection.”

Although Westminster is not interested in ownership, Ryan said the college is still curious about the future of the property.

“I hope we keep the character,” Ryan said. “That’s just my personal opinion, that we hold the legacy of Allen Park and what it was originally meant to be.”

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Josh Messier
Joshua Messier is finishing up his last year at Westminster College with a communication major and a minor in art. Originally from New Hampshire, Joshua moved to Salt Lake City for the best snow in the country. He's more than excited to graduate and see what will come next in life.

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