Saving The 'S-Town' Hedge Maze Is Harder Than It Sounds Even For A Determined Fan
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but the hedge maze described in your new favorite podcast is not doing too well. So is there a way to save the S-Town maze? It's technically possible, and a few dedicated fans of the podcast have taken some steps down that road, but the current state of affairs doesn't bode well for the unique site. Comparing photos taken of the maze early in its inception to images captured more recently makes it evident that it's deteriorated rapidly since John B. McLemore's untimely death in 2015. It's hard not to get sad, imagining that, now that we've found the location of the maze, we're doomed to watch it fall deeper and deeper into disrepair and decay on Google Maps. Ugh.
Sadly, there aren't many viable alternatives. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would be interested in volunteering their time and effort to keep the reported only hedge maze in Alabama in working order, but there are a few obstacles in between us and that pipe dream.
The unfortunate reality is that the S-Town maze is situated on private property, so only the property owner can dictate the future of the maze. As of the release of Chapter VII of S-Town, that property owner is Kendall Burt, patriarch of the family that owns K3 Lumber, who scooped up the land after McLemore's suicide. In that episode, Burt shared that, while he is an admirer of the maze, he's unlikely to be able to put significant efforts toward the maze's upkeep. Thus far, that seems to be the case.
But — and here comes the big, unlikely but — there's a Reddit user named Sleep_ninja who claims to be in contact with a Woodstock, Alabama resident who's taking steps to see if she can save the maze. He keeps her name private, as she is allegedly concerned about backlash from Woodstock residents who don't feel too kindly toward John McLemore and his untidy legacy. However, Sleep_ninja shares:
She's going to be meeting with two different lawyers as soon as she can get appointments with them nailed down to figure out what she can and can't do legally. She is also going to be contacting University of Alabama's History department as well as several different state historically [sic] societies and reserves.
Now, like I said, don't get too fired up or optimistic yet, because, even if it's true, this is just the first tentative step down a very long, time- and cost-intensive road. There's no guarantee that these alleged forays will be met with any success. (Although, that said, if you have any ideas about how to help protect the maze, you can forward tips to SaveJohnsMaze@gmail.com, the contact email that Redditor Sleep_ninja gave for his or her source.)
John McLemore didn't put any plans in place to protect the maze after his death, so it might not be possible to protect this one-of-a-kind location from being "paved over with a Walmart or scrapped off" — to use McLemore's own words. He never believed in life that the maze would outlast him by much after his death. But here's hoping that he's wrong, and that the maze will be refurbished and continue flourishing in Woodstock for many years to come.