Phonehenge West: Fantastical Fortress in the Mojave Desert
Slated for forced demolition, can the colossal Phonehenge West yet be saved? While many of us marvel at the work that goes into such decade-spanning, single-person construction projects, the authorities are not always as impressed – one man may learn this lesson the hard way.
Alan Kimble Fahey has labored for much of his life on this offbeat compilation of interconnected structures and hodgepodge spaces. Now, however, Los Angeles County is coming down hard on the un-permitted piece of architectural art.
Aside from zoning issues, there are likely-legitimate fire code concerns … though for a state with an already-overfilled prison system, up to seven years behind bars seems a bit excessive. Many fans of this unusual masterpiece strongly agree.
This specific dilemma raises a more timeless question, however, for historic preservation: at what point does personal or public interest play a valid role in creating exceptions to rules? One man’s scrap heap is another man’s castle of trash, after all – and asking someone to demolish their abode is a rather big deal. It would be unfair to call the work a pile of unsafe junk – much of it is traditionally-framed and solidly-built, even if it does not conform to traditional typological norms.
More from Roadside America:
“Created by Alan Kimble Fahey over a period of about 30 years, the winding mazes and artistic structures of Phonehenge West are currently under attack due to lack of permits and failure to meet building codes. Somewhat similar to the Watts Towers, Fahey purchased his home, 1.7 acres of Antelope Valley land, with the specific purpose of creative expansion. And expand he did. His encampment is built primarily with unused telephone and utility poles as well as other recycled material – even a staircase which was apparently donated by Danny DeVito!”
“Fayhe is disputing the charges against him and his home, and has gone to court, but is not likely to win. If you want to see his life’s work, you might want to go soon. For more information, you can go to the “Save Phonehenge West” Facebook page, or just Google it as there are tons of articles about the case.”