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In this print by local artist Robert Miller, Francisco Reynders (pictured left) poses with a mime friend.

Portland is a destination for aficionados of the unusual (vulva coloring books or precious boat-roofed campers, anyone?), but in the 1970s, the man responsible for bringing in the young creative masses was an internationally trained mime. And now the house into which he poured much of his own creative energy is on sale.

Born in Holland, Francisco “Frans” Reynders got his start studying the art of mime in Paris with Étienne Decroux, who is considered the father of modern French mime. Once he moved to Portland, Reynders embarked on a brief tenure at Lewis & Clark College before launching the Oregon Mime Theatre with two trusted students. The OMT boasted a global drawing power, and he celebrated his success in 1978 by putting down roots: Frans built a house of his own.

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The domes of the hobbit house stand like little cocoons in the midst of the forest. 

 

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And not just any house. Currently on the market, the so-called “hobbit house” is located in West Linn, Oregon, and it's easy to see where the moniker came from. In a natural setting not too different from the Shire, the hobbit house's dome-shaped rooms are orbited by trees and a sweet little creek. Though quaint, the hobbit house is dynamic in design: the sweeping rooms seem to embrace its occupants, and considering the shortage of flat wall surfaces to hang art upon, the eye travels upwards to the portholes, stained glass panels, and painted murals adorning the high ceilings. 

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A sweep of night sky arcs like a rainbow over the bedroom.

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Round walls mean fewer framed pictures and more murals.

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Stained glass watches over the center of the hobbit house where utilities are accessed. 

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The bathroom features a tub surrounded by golden tile and a starry host of porthole windows. 

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Quaint and cute, the circular kitchen whirls around an island.

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The structure emerges as a potentially brilliant entertaining space, being both cozy and open. 

Outside the slab exterior, a treehouse, creek, lake, and concrete patio with a wooden bench offer a natural playground.

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The whimsy continues with a colorful wooden treehouse.

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Nature and residency are entwined on Reynders' property.

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The forest of a backyard, as seen from the patio.

Reynders was also a skilled set-builder, and he erected a Quonset hut near the house to serve as a workshop for the elaborate projects he created for ballets, plays, and the OMT. A dragon he made still hovers from the hut’s rafters, a reminder of the imaginative spirit behind the house's creation. In such a surreal space, who could forget where they were, and who made it? 

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An original Reynders artifact, this dragon was presumably created for one of the mime's many productions.

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The quonset hut once housed Reynders' set build-outs.

Want to visit the historical hobbit house? Contact Dawn Meaney of Soldera Properties at 503-936-8335 to schedule a tour.

Staging for the space was provided by Jody Wallace of What’s New Furniture, located on Grand Avenue. All images of the house courtesy of Steve Cridland and Soldera Properties, Inc. Francisco Reynders – Mime and Friend gelatin silver print by Robert Miller provided courtesy of the artist. 

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