In addition to being the home of college students and liberals, Ann Arbor, MI also houses a small community of fairies. Or perhaps it’s a larg community. No one really knows, as they have yet to be photographed. However, there is a fairy grove in the Nichols Arboretum where children construct fairy homes and small fairy doors are scattered around the city.
The doors are all about a hand high and are very hard to see. I spotted one earlier this spring on a building I have passed numerous times before without noticing the door. Which is perhaps part of the point. It’s a local treasure hunt of sorts, trying to find all 27 doors in their various locations around downtown Ann Arbor. I’ve only spotted the one sadly, and thus am on a lower ranking than about half of the children in the city.
The fairy doors are part of the urban-fairies project run by Urban Fairies Operations, the brainchild of life long Ann Arbor resident Jonathan B. Wright. As the story goes, Wright and his family live in an 100 year old house. After doing renovations to it, his two daughters discovered three 6-inch doors. One lead to a small staircase with an always locked door at the top. The second door opened to a small room with a fireplace, which in turn opened to a landing with a checkered floor that could be seen from a window in the mantel in Wright’s home. The third was a room that looked over the family kitchen.
It was declared that fairies had moved into the house, and before long they were also taking up residence in coffee shops, concert halls, bookstores, and corporate buildings. Being mystical and magical, they come and go as they please. Some doors have disappeared, only to show up again, while others continue to not make a reapperence.
There are a lot of speculations about these urban fairies, named for their urban location, but it’s generally assumed that they have wings. Especially since some of the doors are elevated. They most likly have sharp teeth, and are thought to be about five inches tall. After all, the doors are six and they have to fit! There seems to be an a bit of a debate as to the nature of fairies – whether they are simply rude or simple shy creature that scare easily, because they have never once answered a knocked door.
That’s not to say there is no interaction with fairies at all. Sweetwater’s Café in the historic Kerrytown region of Ann Arbor seems to be a fairy center. On occasion, they’ll answer questions posed by children in the guest books there. Their spelling is terrible, but that’s most likely a translation issue. It is also a common place to report sightings of the fairies. Apparently the Ann Arbor version has antennae like a butterfly sticking out of their forehead.
In 2006, Wright was gifted with a Golden Paintbrush Award in honor of his work on art in public places. Wright however, insisted that the doors were not of his creation, but rather the local fairies’ doing.