Birmingham, we’ve got some “breaking” development news.
Last week, on Historic Highland Avenue, on a tree in front of Hassinger Daniels Bed and Breakfast, a whole village has magically appeared, with tree houses, pathways and even a carousel.
Its occupants? Gnomes, fairies, unicorns, snails and your imagination!
Two Gnome Villages
This is not a fantasy. Thanks to Sheila Chaffin, owner of Hassinger Daniels Bed and Breakfast, Birmingham now has two Gnome Villages in the alley and front of the historic mansion. The recent development facing Highland Avenue is called Five Points Gnome Village No. 2, while the inaugural installation in the alley is Five Points Gnome Village No.1.
A Pandemic Project
So, how did these two magical places come about? We talked to Sheila to how it all came about.
In her own words:
“We have an area behind the parking lot of Hassinger-Daniels Bed and Breakfast that joins Highlands Bar and Grill that has been used pretty much as a dumping ground for the past ten years since I’ve owned the mansion. The garbage just piled up.
When the pandemic happened, we closed down for about 90 days beginning around March 15.
Everyone was suddenly gone. No one was traveling. I was looking out from my business office and I said to myself – let’s make this something joyful instead of a back alley where people feel frightened. I added more lights and decided to make a Gnome Village.
What’s great about gnomes, they can change. Around St. Patrick’s Day they look like leprechauns and Christmas, they can become elves. I’m an architect and thought it would be cute to have a little village. There are stores, a ski jump, even a labyrinth, just in case someone wanted to mediate. There are frogs, fish, turtles, plants, fairies and the gnomes.”
According to Sheila, since Gnome Village No. 1 was developed the alley has become much more pleasant, people don’t drop their trash in the area like they once did. It is also a draw for her guests and they take walks to Chez Fonfon, Oceans, Bottega and Galley and Garden.
Sheila credits her grandchild and grand niece for helping add many of the playful items in the village, including the fairies.
Her assistant Loraine Burton has also been invaluable, helping her construct the village and come up with creative ideas, every step of the way.
More Villages to Come
Seeing the joy the Gnome Villages give visitors, her family and herself, Sheila hopes more Gnome Villages can magically appear elsewhere in Five Points.
“My hope is that this will attract positive things in the middle of a pandemic. Frankly it keeps me outside which is good for my health. I would love it if others would pick up the idea. I’d be glad to help them. Since this is Five Points, ideally, you’ve got one and two. Wouldn’t it be nice to have 15 (villages). We could make a nice little map to give out to visitors here.”