Illustrator Jonathon Wright with one of his fairy doors at a shop in downtown Ann Arbor, Mich.
The fairy door outside the Red Shoes shop in downtown Ann Arbor is a minature version of the real door.
The fairy door outside the Red Shoes shop in downtown Ann Arbor is a minature version of the real door. Celeste Headlee
Inside the fairy door at the Peaceable Kingdom toy store is what looks like a tiny general store.
Inside the fairy door at the Peaceable Kingdom toy store is what looks like a tiny general store. Celeste Headlee
Fairies are settling in the Michigan college town of Ann Arbor. At least, that's what artist Jonathon Wright would like you to believe.
All across the city, "fairy doors" are popping up. The miniature openings into imagined fairy homes are unsponsored, unauthorized works of public art that have captured the imagination of the city.
A six-inch white wooden door with a carved jamb framed by miniature bricks was the first to appear, outside Sweetwaterz Cafe. Since the spring of last year, seven more doors have appeared at businesses around Main Street.
The human behind the fairy tale is illustrator Jonathon Wright. In 1993, his wife ran a preschool program in their home. On a whim, Wright installed a fairy door in the house. The children's delighted response prompted him to build more.
Noting that businesses in Ann Arbor's downtown section were struggling to attract customers, he thought fairy doors might help. "I'd like to see them thrive, and that's part of what I want to contribute," he says. "Something that's lasting and fun and that can maybe revitalize some interest in the downtown area."
Now children are leaving gifts for the fairies: pennies, candy, hand-knit socks made with tiny needles, teeny felt hats and fairy-sized coloring books.