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« Cranbrook Institute of Science | Main | Adapting To A New Country »
Thursday
May212009

The Urban Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor

Now, this is quite embarrassing to admit so please don’t ridicule me, but before this outing I hadn’t been to Ann Arbor since the mid to late 70’s. My uncle went to the University of Michigan and I swear he must’ve been one of the first people to study computer science. I went with my mom and grandma to visit him and we took the train from the Michigan Central Station in Detroit to Ann Arbor. I remember the grand train station in its glory days but the only thing I remember about Ann Arbor was that my uncle had hanging beads for a door and a waterbed. It was the 70’s after all.

So, we went to Ann Arbor for the day and I can safely say that both the husband and I are smitten with the city. We wandered the downtown area, the U of M campus, and went on a hunt for fairy doors.

The fairy door at Selo/Shevel Gallery


What are fairy doors, you ask? Well, they are tiny magical doors just the right size for fairies. (Notice the pennies in the pictures to give you an idea of their size.)

The fairy door at Peaceable Kingdom


The Fairy Doors started appearing in Ann Arbor in the mid 90’s, first at a residential property and then at different shops in the downtown area. Now, we know that the fairies built the doors (wink, wink) but the first person to find the doors was Jonathan Wright. The fairies must really like this man because they choose his house to build their first door.


These doors give the fairies their own access to many places. Some of the doors also have windows where you can see inside the fairy domiciles, but no one has actually spotted a fairy. I imagine them running from fairy door to fairy door under the cover of darkness.

The doors now adorn many shops and businesses in Ann Arbor, including The Ark, the Google offices, and Sweetwaters Cafe. It was a fun little quest to walk around the city looking upward and downward for these miniature doors.

We found the door at The Ark first, not only is there a door, but also a tiny ticket window just for the fairies. We then found the door at the Selo/Shevel Gallery and the door and many windows at Peaceable Kingdom. We didn’t find the fairy door at Sweetwaters, but that is because we didn’t go inside. I have heard fabulous things about Sweetwaters and am kicking myself that we didn’t stop in.

The Ark Fairy DoorThe fairy ticket window at The Ark

So, next time you’re in Ann Arbor keep your eyes peeled for these doors. You can follow this map of the fairy doors or explore on your own.

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Reader Comments (8)

This is too cool!
I already love finding what I call alley art in Ann Arbor (I posted one such alley mural on my blog a while back)...but this is something else fun to seek out :)

May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

I'll have to check out the alley art. Ann Arbor is such a cool city to begin with, finding little nuggets like these just enhances it. I'm still kicking myself for not finding any of Banksys' art while in the UK. http://www.artofthestate.co.uk/banksy/banksy.htm

May 21, 2009 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

Now I have to go looking for the doors next time I'm in A2. I used to go there in the early 70s but I don't remember :)

May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTim

I spied a few the last time I was there. Too cool!
I saw an ad somewhere for a store in Kerrytown called "Elephant Ears" that sells Fairie Doors, presumably for the private home.

June 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSchmee

Schmee,
Do you know which doors you spotted? That's totally cool that you spotted them too. We didn't make it to Kerrytown but I think it'd be kind of cool to have one in your own home. Hmm, the husband is a carpenter!

June 2, 2009 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

Hey! Thanks for the review! I am surprised I did not see it sooner. I guess my informants are snoozing. :)

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFairyologist

Jonathan,
Thanks for stopping by!

January 30, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

I love Ann Arbor and Detroit so much, even though I no longer live there, Detroit goes with me wherever I roam!

May 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave

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