Salt Lake City Public Lands Division has officially purchased the once-mystical property (aka Hobbitville Allen Park). Their goal is to set aside the area as open space and an additional riparian corridor for the public to access. Currently, Public Lands is in the process of opening it to the public as soon as possible. There are a number of committees working on various parts of the project, and local volunteers are rallying to help where they can, which has helped bring a fractured community together.
The city has spent significant time cleaning up debris as well as installing short fences to prevent people from entering the old buildings. They are making great progress in an effort to get the property opened to the public. Currently, two neighbors have been assigned to feed the peacocks, which was a major concern for neighbors.
The city plans to grant access soon, but the timeline is not defined at this point, and access to parts of the property will be restricted when the property finally opens to the public.
There is approximately $200,000 to $350,000 worth of repairs to make before the property will be fully functional and accessible, and we expect that at some point there will be a public process and many fundraising efforts. You can donate to the Trust for Public Lands, or at https://www.utahopenlands.org/allen-park.
A History of Hobbitville
When Dr. Allen acquired the 8-acre property directly on Emigration Creek in 1931, it was a small farm. The Allens: Dr. George, his wife, Ruth, and three children—moved into the barn near the west end of the property. In the meantime, Scandinavian craftsmen were building a log home for them nearby.
Soon after, the Allens built a series of winding paths along Emigration Creek in the expanse of property east of the log house. They planted trees and shrubs and created nooks with benches and tables where visitors could rest. They built fountains. They added cages and nesting boxes for Dr. Allen’s growing collection of rare pheasants, peacocks, and other exotic birds.
Every Sunday, the property was opened to the general public. Mary Rose remembers a sign on 1300 East that said, “Visitors Welcome.” But later, visitors stopped obeying the private park hours.
By 1970, the “Visitors Welcome” sign had been replaced by a “No Trespassing” sign, and the property was already showing signs of neglect. Allen Park became known for its hobbits and hippies.
Fast forward to 2019, and Dr. Allen’s descendants were struggling to resolve the future of the property. The “weird little idiosyncratic environment”, as Westminster professor David Stanley called it, was in peril. The property was a literary, daydreamer’s fantasy world, with quotes from Alexander Pope, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Shakespeare adorning secret nooks and crannies. It drew me in on several occasions, but to the dismay of the tenants who were tired of chasing “park goers” or “hobbit chasers” away.
Throw into the mix the heyday that land speculators and developers have been enjoying in Sugar House, along with the death of three of the four survivors of Dr. Allen’s family, and the parcel became ripe for new development.
Resident David Hampshire wrote about the history of the place in an extensive story for City Weekly, that a sign appeared one morning on his door that said Four Winds Realty had taken over the management of Allen Park, and that his move-out deadline was January 14, 2019.
Joel Paterson, Salt Lake City zoning administrator, says that putting a public trail through Allen Park, as suggested by the city’s 1992 open-space plan, would require the cooperation of the property owners. That wasn’t to happen, but with the city now owning the property, SaveAllenPark.org and the City Parks will continue work on the park in the coming years. U
Check here for further updates on the public opening: https://www.slc.gov/parks/allenpark/
Additional Reporting by Richard Markosian