Fairy Doors – Ann Arbor, MI

michigan-ann-arbor-fairy-doorFairy Doors with tiny knobs and tiny hinges adorn the downtown area of the City of Ann Arbor, a  University of Michigan college town located 45 miles west of Detroit.

These magical portals can be found inside a coffeehouse, beside a grocer’s steps, or beneath a toy store window. The Ark performing arts center (316 S Main St.) has a fairy door with a tiny ticket window just for the fairies.  And the fairy door outside the Red Shoes shop ( 332 S Ashley St.) is a miniature version of the real door.

The fairy doors are mostly placed low to the ground. However, a local Starbucks has a fairy door on their counter made from a coffee cup.

The first of these magical portals, a six-inch white wooden door with a carved jamb framed by miniature bricks, appeared in 2005 at the Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea Cafe at 123 West Washington.

The Ann Arbor Library also has a teal-colored fairy door. It is mounted on the end of a book shelf in the fairy tale section. A number of the books on the shelves have windows in their spine.

A printed message on the face of the shelf below the books reads: “Please do not touch. These books are out of circulation. Besides there may be someone living in them and it would be rude to disturb them.” Over time, however, the books became tattered by curious hands in search of the occupants of the books.

The concept for the fairy doors originated with Jonathan B. Wright, a local storyteller/illustrator who decided to place “fairy doors” around town. He hoped the doors would revitalize the business district by drawing more people into the area. He has since written a book on the topic entitled, “Who’s Behind the Fairy Doors?”

Wright also gathers information about the visitors to the fairy doors from the journal guest books left by the fairy doors. Visitors to the sites are encouraged to leave their thoughts or sketches in the fairyland diary of sorts. Each guest book has a window on it’s cover.

Jonathan Wright is a certified fairyologist who is given credit for being the first one to “discover” the fairy doors in Ann Arbor.

Despite his knowledge of the fairy doors, Wright will often plead ignorance as to from where they actually came. And he points out that sometimes the doors just up and vanish for a time.

Wright’s inspiration for the fairy doors originated with his own house where he built fairy doors for the children in his wife’s in-home preschool program.

It has now become a custom for people to leave small gifts, drawings, candy and even coins for the tiny fairies who reside behind each door.

Some stores, such as Peaceable Kingdom (210 S. Main St.) and Selo/Sheval Gallery (301 S. Main St.) offer free maps so interested parties can track down the whimsical, magical doors which can be found both inside and outside of respective businesses.

The success of these urban fairy doors have motivated other downtown merchants such as in Saline, Michigan to get in the game with a Fairy Door Treasure Hunt.

Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce
115 W Huron Street
Ann Arbor, MI

Urban Fairies (Check this website for the locations of the fairy doors in Ann Arbor)


Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Thomasville, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Fairy Houses and Doors

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