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Miniature Door-Cynthia Von Buhler-Speakeasy Dollhouse-NYCPhoto by Bryan Thatcher of SuzyMae checking out a door

A couple days ago we came across this adorable find by Scouting NY on Wythe Avenue in Brooklyn. In fact, these architecturally detailed miniature doors, looking just like the series of fairy doors in Ann Arbor, have been popping up all over New York City, tagged with QR codes that lead to the Speakeasy Dollhouse. Conveniently, we’ve been covering the Speakeasy Dollhouse and other theater pieces by Cynthia von Buhler for quite some time now so we could ask her some questions about it.

The craziest thing about these fairy doors is that von Buhler isn’t putting them up herself–it’s her fans. Speaking with von Buhler, she tells us that said fans have been installing them for two and a half years: “About 150 doors have been put up. Some have doormats with secret keys underneath. A few actually open.” Design-wise, the fans have been inspired by von Buhler’s book, But Who Will Bell the Cats?

And like all great crowdsourced art projects, the doors have evolved. As von Buhler tells us, “Now the fans are also doing wheat-paste posters. A group of actors and I found mobster Dutch Schultz’s secret stash of money upstate and we gave the money to our fans to give away to the public in payment for all the strife that evil man caused. The posters with a drawn door have money behind the door. If you take a key edge and drag it along the dotted line you will get the money.”

Miniature Door-Cynthia Von Buhler-Speakeasy Dollhouse-10th Avenue-37th Street-NYCMini door and welcome mat, photographed by Seen in New York

Finally, what is the Speakeasy Dollhouse, you ask? It’s an interactive experience that encourages guests to play along, talk to strangers and inhabit Prohibition-era New York for a couple of hours. Plus, the play is based on the real-life murder of von Buhler’s own grandfather. Italian immigrant Frank Spano owned a speakeasy and may have had mafia connections. In 1935, he was shot and killed, and von Buhler brings her guests into the action, starting with actual newspaper articles and an autopsy report which are sent to you before the event.

It helps that von Buhler sets the spectacle in one of the Lower East Side’s most unique and authentic bars–the Back Room–which was in fact a speakeasy. (It also made our list of New York City’s best hidden bars and speakeasies.)

Miniature Door-Cynthia Von Buhler-Speakeasy Dollhouse-11t Street-East Village-NYC11th Street, New York City. Photo by Bryan Thatcher

Fairy Doors-Speakeasy Dollhouse-Cynthia von Buhler-NYC-006Photo by Peter Moses

Fairy Doors-Speakeasy Dollhouse-Cynthia von Buhler-NYCPhoto courtesy of Cynthia von Buhler

Fairy Doors-Speakeasy Dollhouse-Cynthia von Buhler-NYC-002Photo courtesy of Cynthia von Buhler

Fairy Doors-Speakeasy Dollhouse-Cynthia von Buhler-NYC-004
Photo courtesy of Cynthia von Buhler

Fairy Doors-Speakeasy Dollhouse-Cynthia von Buhler-NYC-003Photo courtesy of Cynthia von Buhler

Miniature Door-Cynthia Von Buhler-Speakeasy Dollhouse-Brooklyn-Rough Trade Record Store-NYCNext to Rough Trade record store in Williamsburg. Photo by Instagrammer ipinchu

This March, von Buhler also staged another interactive piece about the sibling rivalry of the Booth brothers, the infamous one who assassinated Abraham Lincoln, and his brother Edwin Booth who founded the Players Club in Gramercy Park.

See a photo essay on the fairy doors of Ann Arbor, Michigan and check out the Speakeasy Dollhouse here. For slightly larger miniature doors, look no further than the hobbit doors of Dennett Place in Brooklyn.

Additional reporting by Laura Itzkowitz.

 

1 Comment

  1. Cristina says:

    This is uber cool! I’ll be going to NYC just to explore and look out for these. Thanks for providing the location!

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