Skip to main content

Montauk Fairy Village Is No More

Thu, 05/09/2024 - 11:05

Unaware it would be ‘polarizing,’ its creator seeks to rebuild elsewhere

The “fairy gnome village” that Matt Thompson created at the Culloden Point Nature Preserve, in better times. After some criticism, he has since removed what remained of it.
Matt Thompson

The man who created a fairy village in a Montauk nature preserve has removed the plastic figurines and tiny structures after a neighbor complained that the whimsical installation was junking up the preserve.

“I didn’t know it would be such a polarizing thing,” said Matt Thompson, 39, who lives in East Hampton but grew up in Montauk and said he “always walked those trails as a young kid.”

“I’d always see that patch of moss and say, ‘That’s the fairy and gnome spot.’ Finally, this past summer I pulled the trigger and built something that matched my imagination,” said Mr. Thompson, who came forward last week to claim responsibility for the village, which had become a point of contention for frequent users of the Culloden Point Nature Preserve.

“I apologized to the people who were upset about it,” Mr. Thompson said by phone this week. “I can understand their arguments. I’ve been studying pagan religions and folklore for years. I’m not just a guy putting fairy houses on moss patches for no reason. I’m pretty into this subject.”

“My goal was to turn it into a geocache location; that was one of my main inspirations for building the space,” he said.

A geocache is a collection of goodies that can be hidden anywhere. Geocachers download an app, find nearby geocaches, visit them, sign logbooks, and either take what’s in the cache, trade, or add to the cache.

Mr. Thompson said he works in child care and takes children on fishing adventures and historical hikes. The fairy village became a destination for some of his hikes.

“Going forward I would like to get the town’s approval,” he said. He has also started a petition on change.org to try and garner community support for the miniature housing development.

“I built the place myself thinking not many people would find it, because it’s not a very well-known trail,” he said. He added a log book to the spot so visitors could sign in. Later, when the tiny village was removed or destroyed by people who didn’t appreciate its presence, he added a trail camera to discourage vandalism.

“It was an old trail cam that never worked, and I only put it there to deter human vandalism, which I took to be coming from teenage boys. That was my goal. When I read comments that the trail cam made people anxious about being spied on, that was never the purpose of it.”

Maura Donahue, who lives near the preserve, didn’t like the collection of what she called, “plastic crap from China,” and placed signs at the village calling for its removal. The friction between her and Mr. Thompson, who was previously anonymous, has cooled substantially since the first article about the fairy gnome village appeared in The Star two weeks ago. The two connected through Instagram.

“I apologized to Ms. Donahue, and she gave me an apology as well,” Mr. Thompson said. “It was a mutual thing. She did express if I were to move forward with the town, that she is a sculptor, and she would sculpt something for the village. There’s another lady that reached out and said she did wreck it a bit. She apologized too,” said Mr. Thompson.

“I did say I would make him a decent fairy house if he found a place to do it, but I should have told him just don’t do it in a nature preserve,” said Ms. Donahue. “Put it in front of a library, or a playground. I wasn’t fond of that thing. I don’t care if Picasso came back from the dead, or if it was LongHouse-worthy, it just doesn’t belong in a nature preserve and I’m sticking by that.”

Other fairy villages are turning up. Eden Benard, who manages Grindstone Donuts and Coffee in Sag Harbor, took photos of a miniature set of shelves, full of fingernail-size dishes, attended by a tiny porcelain rabbit sitting on a chair in a hollowed-out tree trunk at Trout Pond Preserve in Noyac. Mr. Thompson knows the area.

“I see a few doors on trees there,” he said. “Other people are doing this too. Maybe I made a bit of a mistake, but I’m learning from it. I’m open to other spots too. I was speaking with a few people and the East Hampton duck pond [the Nature Trail] may be the best place to do it.”

“If it were charming, looked like it belonged, and not on the main drag, I think it would be an enhancement, and conjure up fairyland,” said Dianne Benson, chairwoman of the Ladies Village Improvement Society’s Nature Trail committee. “After all, the preserve is 24 acres. Maybe near the old Japanese garden, where the kids congregate. It has a mood; it could fit into some nook and cranny there.”

 

Villages

Juneteenth: ‘This Is American History’

Following the establishment of Juneteenth as a federal holiday in 2021, commemorating the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, education efforts have grown throughout the community. “At the end of the day, this is something that should be taught because this is American history,” said Georgette Grier-Key, executive director of the Eastville Community Historical Society in Sag Harbor.

Jun 20, 2024

Georgica Pond Group Taps Assemblyman Thiele as Next Director

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. announced in February that he would not be seeking re-election in November after nearly 30 years in state government. For those wondering what his next act would be, the suspense is over: Mr. Thiele has been named executive director of the Friends of the Georgica Pond Foundation.

Jun 20, 2024

Jerry’s Team Is Re-Elected

There were no surprises in the East Hampton Village election on Tuesday. Mayor Jerry Larsen, Chris Minardi, the deputy mayor, and Sandra Melendez, another village trustee, all ran unopposed and were re-elected to four-year terms.

Jun 20, 2024

Your support for The East Hampton Star helps us deliver the news, arts, and community information you need. Whether you are an online subscriber, get the paper in the mail, delivered to your door in Manhattan, or are just passing through, every reader counts. We value you for being part of The Star family.

Your subscription to The Star does more than get you great arts, news, sports, and outdoors stories. It makes everything we do possible.