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‘Hobbit’ release brings unexpected attention for Bainbridge builder

Islander Chris Whited didn’t set out to build a “hobbit house” when he started his eccentric building project on High School Road. The comparisons, however, proved unavoidable. His neighbors were the first to invoke the Middle-earth reference, inspired by the cottage’s slanted walls and curved roofline.

When we featured Whited’s creation on the cover of the Sun in October, the word “hobbit” landed the story on the AP wire. It went modestly viral from there, popping up in various forms on news sites across the country. Whited wasn’t prepared for the response.

“I was figuring I would have to dig around back on page 11 or 12 to find it, boy, was I ever surprised to see it on the front cover!” Whited wrote to us in an email after the story ran. “I figured the front cover was reserved for escaped convicts and politicians. Then I heard from friends on facebook that it was in the Yakima Herald the Tricities paper and in Lewiston Idaho. I  checked online and saw spinoff articles in New York and in the UK! Seems like a lot of fuss for a little cottage doesn’t it?”

Indeed.

But Whited’s whimsical house seems to have struck a chord, and the release of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” this week brought a new wave of interest. KOMO gave the project news feature treatment in a segment Thursday:

Despite his newfound notoriety, Whited wasn’t queuing up for the “Hobbit” premier Thursday.

“Midnight just doesn’t sound like fun to me,” he told Sun reporter Rachel Pritchett.