One of the most exciting things about buying and fixing up an older home is the possibility of discovering a piece of long-hidden history. Whether it’s a piece of somebody’s everyday routine or a trove of literal treasure, it’s always so cool and interesting to find and feel a connection to the past.
So how do you think you’d feel if one day, while renovating your home, you made a discovery a little smaller but a whole lot more magical? Like, say, a “fairy door”?
That’s the story of Jonathan B. Wright and his family, who in 1993 “discovered” a tiny door leading to a tiny staircase, which in turn lead to another, locked tiny door. In the decades since, more and more of these openings to a hidden fantasy realm have been revealed all over their town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and finding them all has become one of the favorite pastimes of residents and visitors to the city, for both children and adults alike.
The fairy doors aren’t limited to individual homes, either. Keen-eyed believers can find them along the streets in various buildings, in restaurants, in shops, and – perhaps most impressively – within a computer case on the University of Michigan Campus.
The mysterious and invisible fairy builders have even constructed their own shop within local gift store Peaceable Kingdom . . .
. . . and the most brave hunters of enchanted architecture can spy a slightly larger version built by jealous goblins in between a jewelry store and local folk music venue The Ark, the latter of which also features a fairy ticket window.
The innovative fairy builders seem to be spreading throughout Michigan, too. Fairy doors have been spotted in the surrounding towns of Ypsilanti, Saline and Dexter, where various fairy scavenger hunts, art exhibitions and contests are held in honor of the fantastical additions to the area.
So who’s really behind these fairy doors? Most people believe that they’re an art installation and the work of original “discoverer” Jonathan B. Wright, but he insists he’s merely an admirer and documentarian of the whimsical phenomenon. On his website, Urban Fairies, Wright assembles a guide to all the known fairy door locations in Ann Arbor, and maintains a question-and-answer section he insists is from one of the fairies herself.
For his part, Wright calls himself a “certified fairyologist,” and creates children’s books “in collaboration with his wife, Kathleen, who coincidentally has found a fairy door in her kindergarten classroom.” He stands resolutely by his story that his children discovered the first of the fairy doors while they were renovating their home, and denies any connection the building of said doors himself.
To hear him tell the tale of the doors’ discovery, and to learn the adorable way in which children – and children-at-heart! – interact with the doors and the “fairies,” check out Ascalon Films’ video below.
What do you think of this delightful tradition? Have you ever visited Ann Arbor and seen a “fairy door” for yourself? Are there any where you live? Clap if you believe in fairies, and tell us what you think!