A house built into a hill in River Falls, Wis., and nicknamed the Hobbit House is receiving a flood of social media attention thanks to the popular Zillow Gone Wild linking to the recently listed home on Twitter.
"Here's your chance to finally live like a hobbit," states the post that has garnered tens of thousands of "likes" as well as comments and retweets on Twitter.
Comments about the architecture as well as speculation about whether you have to be hobbit-sized to live there comfortably have followed.
"I'm assuming it's sealed pretty tight, looks like the design is trying to capitalize on ground cooling and temperature regulating," read one comment. Another person chimed in, "This home would finally allow me to reach the top shelf."
The house's listing agent, Sara Capecchi, said the average-height person can, in fact, exist comfortably in the house.
"What it looks like on the interior is not what you would expect from looking at the exterior. The ceilings are actually very tall there," she said, adding that the rooms range from 8 to 10 feet tall. "There are a couple spots where you might have to duck around the corner because it's just kind of built out a little bit, but for the most part you can absolutely stand upright."
The last time the house was on the market was in 2018. At the time of that listing, a Star Tribune article told how the house was built in 1972 by two University of Wisconsin-River Falls professors, Pat Clark and Emogene Nelson, who hired Stillwater architect Michael McGuire.
"The energy crisis of the 1970s that led to sky-high oil prices had sparked homeowners, such as Clark and Nelson, to explore energy-efficient and economical earth-sheltered dwellings," wrote Lynn Underwood.
The walls of the multilevel house, built of two arched steel shells connected by a hallway and steps and set in concrete, are covered with spray foam insulation. The house is covered with soil and grass, with the exception of three chimneys that peek out of the hill.
Capecchi said the current homeowners were moving to the area from California and bought the place sight unseen.
"What intrigued them about the property is that it was designed by Mike McGuire, whose work they loved, and they were excited to live in a property designed by him," she said.
Passing the baton
Since living there, the owners have maintained the home as well as replacing appliances such as the washer, dryer and refrigerator. "They spent the past 3 ½ years buttoning everything up," Capecchi said.
Now, the owners have put the 2,300-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom home on nearly 3.5 acres back on the market.
"Although they loved living in the country, they decided they were city people," Capecchi said. "And that's what brought us here."
While updates were made, the uniqueness and charm — including arched ceilings, French doors, aggregate concrete floors in community spaces and bedrooms that each have an en suite, sitting area and wood-burning fireplace — have been preserved.
Capecchi said skylights and built-ins can be found throughout. There's custom cabinetry designed into the wall that is "folded into the mold of the home so well that it doesn't look like storage." A bench in the living room has a matching one on the other side of the glass.
"As you look out the window, that same bench is outside, so it looks like it's connected. The flooring has this river rock look," she said. "They really brought the design elements of wanting to bring the flow of inside to outside and vice versa. It just continues. It was really ahead of its time."
Curious minds want to know
Since the house was listed, it has drawn plenty of interested buyers as well as looky-loos.
"We had showings pretty quickly. But then when the story broke and went national on Zillow Gone Wild, we had an open house and had 500 people go through it, and it was more like a museum showing than an open house," Capecchi said.
"One thing people often comment on is how surprised they are that you can actually stand upright in it. They thought you couldn't since it's nicknamed the Hobbit House."
Capecchi takes it all in stride.
"It's been so fun and so respectful. People were just excited to be there," she said. "It's been very cool to be a part of something that has brought so much joy to people."
Sara Capecchi (firstname.lastname@example.org; 612-804-9259) of eXp Realty has the $315,000 listing.