The Town with a Subculture of Secret Tiny Doors


11th Jun, 2013

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, a series of what is known as ‘fairy doors’, began popping up around the area in 2005, built into buildings, shops and restaurants and quickly acquired a cult following. Father and children’s book author, Jonathan B. Wright, believed to be behind the installation of  the whimsical tiny portals, is kind of like the Banksy of fairy doors.

One of the fairy doors in Ann Arbor, outside the Peaceable Kingdom store. There’s a miniature replica of the shop behind the door built under the window display, which can also be seen from tiny windows inside the store…

Spring selection at the fairy shop

It all began in 1993 when Jonathan was renovating his home and decided to install some fairy doors for his daughters (one in the fireplace and two in the kitchen). You can see the doors he built for them here. Over a decade later, he decided to go public. On April 7, 2005, the first public fairy door appeared outside Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea. Ten days later, the Peaceable Kingdom one appeared.


At the Ann Arbor Public Library:

Fairy Door and Windows - Ann Arbor Library

Fairy Door and Windows - Ann Arbor Library

Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea indoor fairy door:

Fairy Door - Sweetwaters Cafe

The Mott Children’s hospital in Ann Arbor:

The door at Red Shoes is a near-exact replica of the actual entrance, and inside the store is a small green door similar to the doors found inside the building. Written on the red door outside is Ours 123-4:5683?, which is a take on the real entrance that lists the store hours.

Fairy Door - Red Shoes

red shoes fairy door

Google Offices at Ann Arbor:

The Shevel Gallery:

Fairy Door

Jonathan has since created the website and written the children’s book Who’s Behind the Fairy Doors?

Of the original ten public Ann Arbor fairy doors, seven still exist in and around the downtown Ann Arbor area but the idea has also spread to other nearby towns. Local children leave gifts for the tiny inhabitants, include pennies, drawings, tiny packages, candies, and little notes.

Images thanks to





You might also like


More in Comedic TherapyHow to start a subcultureLife is MessyLost & FoundNostalgiaObscure historyTime travel

Hot Off the Press

Editor's Picks

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Your Office on Cloud 9 in Paris

I remember moving to Paris and not really knowing where to start. In fact, I probably took a lot longer than I should have to rev my engines because I just didn't have a place to go and plan worl...

Trending 1,110

The Messy Nessy Chic Holiday Book List

Don’t count on me as a book critic here and I’m certainly no literary connoisseur, but one thing you might be able to rely on is that I’m not bad at sniffing out a good story. And by now, I th...

Trending 1,842

The Fashion World’s Best Kept Secret

If you asked me to name three fashion photographers off the top of my head, I would probably say, Mario Testino (easy one), Annie Leibovitz ... and does that guy who photographs everyone on the st...

Trending 2,108

The Art of Homemaking in a World War Dugout

It all started with one photograph that caught my interest, and then through the course of today, I think I've easily gone through about 10,000 photographs, searching through various archives for ...

Trending 3,611