Lord Voldemort may have been put out of commission by his own Killing Curse, but longtime Harry Potter friend Hermione Granger still isn't safe in the Muggle world - at least from a slight misrepresentation, anyway.
For the last three years, residents and passers-by of western Missoula's Hermione Lane, named after a character in the popular Harry Potter franchise, have been unaware of a nearly unnoticeable, yet crucial, error: The name is spelled wrong on the street sign, reading "HERMOINE LN" instead.
"Nobody's ever noticed it," said Jennifer Piippo, a resident of Potter Place Loop who lives across the street from the faulty sign in Windsor Park near the Missoula International Airport.
Piippo, a Harry Potter fan, said that since moving to Potter Place Loop in 2006, she's had friends wanting to take their picture in front of the street sign.
But, Piippo said, "Now that I noticed it, it will bug me every time I drive by it."
Hermione Lane is just one of three streets in Potter Place Loop referencing the immensely popular J.K. Rowling series, according to Collin Bangs. The other two are Diagon and Muggle lanes. (In the series, the young wizards buy their supplies in Diagon Alley, and a Muggle is non-magical human - in other words, most of us.)
Bangs, a real estate agent and builder working on the project, said the idea for Potter-themed neighborhoods served as a way to get residents involved with naming the streets, as well as to avoid a duplicate name, which might lead to confusion in case of an emergency.
He also noted that the incorrect spelling only appears on the street and For Sale signs. The street is correctly spelled as Hermione on official documents.
WGM Group planner Nick Kaufman shoulders some of the blame for the flip-flopped "o" and "i."
"How it got misspelled I can't tell you," Kaufman said, but added "we'd have to be the guilty party."
Kaufman said that part of building the development was his effort to incorporate friends and family into the work. When designing and planning the streets, Kaufman said that Harry Potter was "all the rage" for his older daughter and her friends - and he wanted their input on the street names.
"There's their fingerprint," Kaufman said.
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Barbara Theroux, manager of Missoula's Fact & Fiction bookstore and a Potter buff, said that while the neighborhood referencing the series is amusing, the misspelling might defeat the purpose of the clever names.
"I think it would detract from what they're trying to do," Theroux said.
But Theroux, like Piippo, believes that if she were to see the street sign, she probably wouldn't notice the error.
While the letter swap may agitate some, Kaufman wouldn't have it any other way.
"I think it builds character," Kaufman said. "I wouldn't change it for the world."
Additionally, Kaufman wryly added that the misspelling will confuse He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his Death Eaters "in their unceasing search for Harry Potter" and friends.
Character building and "enemy" evasion aside, Bangs did affirm that Hermione Lane will soon be getting a sign free of errors.
"The sign will be changing," Bangs said.
But the flawed marker still might have a home nearby.
"I want the sign," Piippo said.
Steve Miller is a senior studying print journalism and English literature at the University of Montana who is interning at the Missoulian this summer. He can be reached at 523-5259 or at email@example.com.