…If on the extreme limits of the horizon you see a long line of hills bounding your view exactly, then you may be perfectly certain that on the other side of those hills is Fairyland.”
~Hilaire Belloc, “On the Way to Fairyland”
Many places have claimed to harbor fairies. In fact, you probably have a neighbor with a fairy garden or may even have noticed a fairy door installed on a tree in your own front yard. But Fairyland official, that is to say, the best place to find a plethora of New World pixies relaxing at home is in Ann Arbor, Michigan—a town that’s well known for its university but famous for its downtown fairy doors.
The first fairy door took shape in Ann Arbor in 1993. Fairy doors began to spring up in the home of graphic designer Jonathan Wright . He and his wife discovered fairy doors along the baseboards of their home. They even spotted one in the fireplace. The fairies must certainly have found their lodgings in Ann Arbor comfortable, because in the subsequent years, fairy doors began to pop up throughout the city’s downtown area.
The first public fairy door was found at Sweetwater’s Coffee and Tea. It’s a simple white door that is located near the cafe’s cash register as its resident fairy enjoys the clanging of the coins. Soon, more fairy doors at other nearby establishments began to pop up. Some fairies prefer to place their doors on the exteriors of buildings. The Selo-Shevel Gallery, for instance, displays a bright red fairy door outlined with gray bricks. It’s perched at the sidewalk’s edge.
The Ann Arbor District Library features an entire fairy home designed out of a bookcase and fairy tale books. A local Starbuck’s boasts a fairyland cafe within its establishment and the Bank of Ann Arbor on Washington Street features a fairy-sized ATM for fairies who need fast cash.
While Wright, of course, began Ann Arbor’s fairy craze with his private and public fairy door installations inspired by his young daughters’ love of enchantment, the trend has inspired many of Ann Arbor’s businesses and residents to lure fairies to their properties. Many visitors now come to Ann Arbor for a tour of its fairy doors and fairy homes. Many of the installations are quite simple, but others are more elaborate and feature lights that turn on and off. Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater actually features a miniature fairy theatre that boasts a working movie screen!
The love for fairies appears to have bloomed well in Ann Arbor. While the University of Michigan, which makes its home in the city, has yet to provide scholarly research on the matter, it’s probable that the fairies were attracted to the city because of its hilly terrain and dense forested parks. The city contains more than 50,000 trees and has been nicknamed “Tree City.” There’s also the Huron River that flows through Ann Arbor, a popular fairy trade route, and acres upon acres of gardens for fairy dances, picnics, and races.
If you plan to visit Ann Arbor to see its eclectic fairy doors located throughout the city, plan to bring some special offerings, as many guests do, to leave near the doors to let the fairies know you have called. A pearl button, a rhinestone, a clean bottle-cap, or a shiny penny are always acceptable gifts for the city’s resident fairies.