Monhegan Island (aka, “The Island That Time Forgot”) is one of 3,000 rocky, pine-studded islands dotting the mid-coastal waters of State of Maine. It is 10 miles off the coast via ferries from Boothbay Harbor, New Harbor, or Port Clyde.
Hidden within the island’s woodland landscapes are fairy houses built by area locals, most of them artists or lobster fishermen. For years, children and the young-at-heart have built tiny fairy shelters on the island.
Fairy houses are tiny structures of twigs, bark, rocks and sea shells tucked into tree bases and nooks and crannies, especially in Cathedral Woods, a popular destination spot on Monhegan Island that is home to many fairy houses left by locals and visitors for the magical residents of the island.
“I believe in everything until it’s disproved, so I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind.” – John Lennon
During one such visit to Maine, author/illustrator Tracy Kane was inspired by the fairies of Monhegan Island to write a popular series of books on how to build Fairy house. Portsmouth, NH, Kane’s hometown now hosts an annual Fairy House Tour.
Unfortunately, the popularity of Kane’s fairy house books have increased the foot traffic on the island. Consequently, to discourage construction of fairy house, locals have posted signs with the message. “These wildlands are all privately owned. Please help keep them pristine.”
Some members of the anti-fairy movement are known as “Stompers,” because of their tendency to destroy fairy houses they discover. So it is important to build anonymously, minimally and somewhere hidden.
However, on Mackworth Island, below Monhegan, park managers created a Fairy Village. Welcoming signs read: “You may build houses small and hidden for the fairies, but please do not use living or artificial materials.” By encouraging visitors to build fairy houses within a defined area, they hope to preserve rest of the wood areas from the onslaught of new visitors.
When building “eco-friendly” fairy houses on the island, remember these rules: Construct the fairy dwelling from natural materials (nothing living, like flowers or mosses.) Don’t dig up the surroundings. Build them in a quiet place, where the fairies won’t be disturbed. And should you encounter an existing fairy house, the locals ask visitors not to touch them or try to add to them.
After hiking the 17 miles of trails, leading through forests, over rocky ledges and cliffs with breathtaking views, visitors can explore the local artists’ colony museum, take a swim on the beach (if you like cold water) and even tour a lighthouse.
Another attraction featuring fairy houses in Maine can be found at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens where little fairies, gnomes, elves, and wizards frolick at The Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden in July and August. It is the perfect place for Sugarplum Fairy music and dancing on the maze; fairy puppet shows, stories, dress-up, crafts, and games.