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A bit of The Shire in Chester Co., Pa.

This could be one of the the misty forests of Middle Earth, the way the fog thickly swirls around the trunks of knotty trees.

Actually, this is rural Chester County, Pa., about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia, where Vince Donovan lives. A lifelong fan of The Lord of the Rings, for the last 50 years he has been amassing an enormous collection of all things J.R.R. Tolkien. So much so, he hired an architect to design a house to contain it.

The tiny house — just 600 square feet — is a tidy picturebook cottage with stone walls, clay-tile roof in whimsical curves, set in a gap of dry-laid stone wall that had likely been erected sometime in the 18th century.

The showpiece is the distinctive round, 200-pound, mahogany door, hobbit-sized, pivoting on a single, massive, wrought-iron hinge.

Inside the hobbit house are all things hobbit — pipes, swords, pewter figurines. Lying nonchalantly on the stone mantlepiece is a gold ring, its inside surface inscribed. And books. Hundreds of editions of Tolkien’s novels, from dimestore paperbacks to gilt-edged box sets in ornate slip covers. It’s cozy, and quirky, and it’s completely hand-made.

The walls were set by a stonemason who dug up rocks from the site the house is built on. The timber arches supporting the roof were steamed and bent into a half-circle, then put into place with wooden pegs. The blacksmith made all the door and window hinges with medieval flourishes tapering to little spearpoints.


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