Welcome to ‘Elfland’: an 8 year old boy from Somerville started building a miniature village on a wasteland – then strangers secretly settled in

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“Can someone build us houses?” ” they read.

And that’s what the boy and his family did.

People continue to add small items to “Elfland” in Somerville, but the creators are unsure who helped them develop the small town.Erin Clark / Globe Staff

From the imagination of an 8 year old boy was born “Elfland”, a miniature makeshift village that little creatures can call their own. What started as a modest exhibit on the corner of School and Summer streets has grown into a whimsical community. project it brought a bit of childish wonder to the weary residents facing a second pandemic winter.

In August, the boy and his parents started building Elfland from scratch, giving new life to a wasteland filled with chunks of rock and invasive weeds. But a month later, as word of the fairytale village spread, neighbors who discovered the secret kingdom began to quietly make their own additions.

Some of the buildings in the small village called
Some of the buildings in the small village called “Elfland”. Erin Clark / Globe Staff

Today, Elfland is perhaps the most talked about new neighborhood in the city, an enchanted place which, according to its creator, is teeming with “Flying cookies” and “spiky green hats and green clothes”, and where the average height is 1 inch.

When you search for “Elfland” on Google, it displays a map of the neighborhood and qualifies the village as a “tourist attraction” which is received several five-star ratings.

An ice rink appeared as if in the air, its tiny oval of
An ice rink appeared as if in the air, its tiny oval of “ice” surrounded by a perimeter of string.Erin Clark / Globe Staff

So what’s it like to live in Elfland?

“They have crickets as pets and live mostly underground,” said the boy, whose family asked to remain anonymous to preserve fun and fantasy of the project and because the vacant lot is private property. “Each family has about 22 elves, and not all elves get old.”

Before the elves carved out a corner of the land, the property housed a gas station and repair shop, which were demolished earlier this year.

The planning council is due to meet about a potential development on the vacant lot on December 16.
The planning council is due to meet about a potential development on the vacant lot on December 16.Erin Clark / Globe Staff

Fences line sections of the property, but an opening to the left of the lot, where residents of a neighboring building park their cars, makes it easily accessible.

“It truly is an eyesore and it has been there for years,” the boy’s father said.

The hospital dominates some of the other structures of "Elfland."
The hospital dominates some of the other “Elfland” structures.Erin Clark / Globe Staff

In a city where new apartment buildings seem to grow overnight, the lot was ripe for development. The boy and his parents began placing wooden structures resembling houses on the site, which they laid out on the dirt. They then added painted birdhouses to complement the existing infrastructure. Then came the “Elfland” hospital and his little library.

They are perhaps the proudest of “Dino Farm”, a closed collection of plastic dinosaurs.

A dinosaur farm appeared in "Elfland" in Somerville.
A dinosaur farm has appeared in “Elfland” in Somerville. Erin Clark / Globe Staff

The project became something special that family and a few close friends could share, a secret all their own.

“Just a little light and airy,” the boy’s mother said.

Then came a magical twist. One day, model houses of a railway set appeared in the village. Another time, an ice rink appeared as if in the air, its tiny oval of “ice” surrounded by a perimeter of string.

Someone else – the family doesn’t know who – brought solar powered lights and planted them in the earth. When they glow at night, shining above the village, they look like miniature versions of the sidewalk lamps on Beacon Hill.

A person left a a pint-sized yellow swing and fenced-in “community garden” took shape. And now there is a water tower, not far from the miniature church.

Elfland’s fate won’t last forever, with the planning board set to meet over a potential development there on December 16. “Defend Elfland!

Someone even made T-shirts with the slogan, who featured on the Instagram account “Elfland”, a place where the “elves” and the family who built them houses keep over 250 subscribers updated on the latest city news.

It seems that every time the family visits Elfland, there is something new, adding to the mystique of the village.

“It’s exciting every time someone adds something new,” the boy’s father said. “The first time, it was like ‘Yeah, that’s so awesome.'”

"Elf," a makeshift village founded by an 8-year-old resident, now houses a chic hotel.
“Elfland”, a makeshift village founded by an 8-year-old resident, now houses a chic hotel. Erin Clark / Globe Staff

Every day passers-by can be seen peering through the metal fences that surround it, marveling at the expanding display and the pleasure it inspires.

“Elfland continues to grow… in a torn piece of land around the corner… and it brings me both immense joy and a deep desire in my heart,” one person posted on Instagram last month with a photo of the village. .

The family who created Elfland said they hoped it would inspire other children to find the Elves in their neighborhood. and give them homes for the winter.

“Our family is still focused individually and collectively on building community and building relationships,” the boy’s mother said. “And it’s a great way to get people involved. “


Steve Annear can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @steveannear.



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