The saga of the tiny tree door in Golden Gate Park
Back in April, when curious people wandering through the park’s concourse near the de Young first discovered a tiny door snugly fitted into the roots of a tree, they passed word along. But the news eventually reached city park officials, who removed the door, saying its hinges damaged the tree.
After a small outcry on behalf of the home’s tiny denizens, park officials replaced the door — with a pale imitation of the original, which still stands in the tree.
But in the months since then, the first door’s creator, Tony Powell, has been dreaming up a plan for another home, and it’s finally ready for the fairies, elves, squirrels and other mini tenants to move in, though the exact address remains a bit of a mystery to give them some space, Powell said.
“Go west from the original fairy door, though not quite due west since that would take you into the Japanese Tea Garden,” Powell said. “It’s around the other side of the garden, then down a little ways. There’s a little trail and on it you’ll find a rather long eucalyptus log, about 16 or 18 feet long, under a yew tree. It’s on the westward end of the log.”
The door passes park official inspection because it’s not attached to a living tree. Since the new door was put up around Labor Day, a few intrepid explorers have found it and left little gifts inside, said Powell, who made this door and the first one with his 6-year-old son, Rio.
The new circular door made of pine and covered in sealant, was inspired by the circular doors favored by hobbits in The Lord of the Rings. It’s about the size of a small plate, but can easily be looked over.
“It’s really amazing how many people have not seen it even though they walk right by it,” Powell said. “I pointed it out to a parks worker the other day, and though she worked in the area, she had no idea.”
Powell posts some of the letters and notes left in the door on a blog about the project. He hopes its new location will keep casual lookers away but still be accessible for curious fans.
The door in the concourse remains in place, though park officials originally said they would take it down.
“We’re going to ask them if they’ll allow that to remain, since so many people still visit that door every day and not a lot of people know about the new one,” Powell said. “We’re hoping they can let the fairies keep that as a mailbox.”