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A HOBBY TO LOVE | At Willow & Maple, A Family Hobby that's Both Intriguing & Inviting


NAPERVILLE–Adam Chasen and Jen Ullrich live in Naperville with their four kids, three dogs, an ugly frog, and a huge tank of fish. A blended family, Jen has a 13-year-old daughter (Emma) and Adam has a 13-year-old son (Max) and twin 15-year-old daughters (Bella and Amelia).

Their Naperville home was built in 1958 by the builder Don Tosi. Tosi built many mid-century modern homes in the area and they fell in love with theirs and moved in about six years ago. As kids, the two both had a passion for the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute and have loved miniatures ever since. They began their own creative adventure starting with a miniature version of their house that they called 125 1/8 and have been expanding the fairyland adventure for several years. The installation has drawn hundreds of visitors to their home at the corner of Willow and Maple Lane just south of downtown Naperville.

If you come by around dusk, you can see inside of the stores thanks to Adam’s custom lighting fixtures that illuminate everything from the pathway to the diner to the MetroGnome music store.

Adam built everything by hand including most of the interior pieces. Jen says he is an absolute genius creator and maker - he carves, molds, electrifies, welds - he does it all - the water features, everything. He even hand-cast the cement blocks used to build the lighthouse. Adam's background is construction, and he built restaurants in Chicago and homes in the Gold Coast and on the North Shore.

He is an expert in design/build and applies all that knowledge to the small scale too. The entire family comes up with ideas and Adam makes them real.

“Every piece takes a ton of hours and skill. He loves to do it. It makes us both really happy to be able to do something fun for the neighborhood,” Jen shares. “We have visitors from all over the area and people walk by or ride by on their bikes and yell all kinds of nice compliments. It brings us a lot of joy.”

Visitors of all ages enjoy the fairyland, leaving behind nice tokens and letters, including from a woman who had traveled to Ireland and brought back the mushrooms that are now in the fairy lawn. Another neighbor's young son wrote tiny little letters that are now inside the music store. Inside Wings and Things, the first store in Fairyland, are things from Jen’s childhood collected from her Great Grandma Emma. The most recent addition to the fairy stores includes little paper hearts with BLM added to the store windows.

Working in Human Resources at Edward-Elmhurst Health, Jen has a heart with an eye for community focus. She also extends that passion to teaching in the Bridge Communities job readiness program. Jen and Adam look forward to sharing the joys of their Fairyland with the entire community.

If you visit, please stay on the sidewalk and be careful. Keep Fairyland around for everyone to enjoy.-Kristen Kucharski

Photos Submitted by Jen Ullrich





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