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Rarely seen, they are reported to be only 5-inches tall, mischievous, charming, fond of gifts, interested in history, architecture and art. And the story goes, after hundreds of years some have begun to leave their ancestral rural communities in Ireland and England for American towns, including Healdsburg.

According to The Fairy Census, and the serious academic history edited by historian Simon Young and folklore researcher Ceri Houlbrook, “Magical Folk: British and Irish Fairies — 500 AD to the Present,” the Fae, aka fairies,’ immigration to the United States is fairly recent.

No one will say exactly when, but starting in 2017, people began to observe small “fairy doors” popping around downtown Healdsburg. The earliest confirmed door was by Holly Hoods, the museum curator and executive director.

“I was thrilled!” says Hoods. “It just magically appeared one day at our doorstep. It looks like they were trying to replicate the museum door. It is as dignified as our restored Carnegie Library Building. There is a small bust. I am not sure of who. Maybe a famous fairy. If we hadn’t been chosen, and knew how, we would have asked for one. We encourage all the fairies to come visit when they get settled.”

The museum staff celebrate the door by decorating it seasonally. A wreath and Christmas tree during the holidays. Flowers to welcome spring.

The next two doors to become generally known were at Toy Chest and Cupcake, a children’s clothing store. A sales associate at Cupcake, who declined to give her name, says she noticed the door around Halloween. She believes there were doors at more shops around the Healdsburg Plaza, some of which were dismantled, perhaps by people who didn’t know what they were.

But overall the town has been welcoming to the decorative little doors, and the idea of tiny creatures setting up shop.

“We’re delighted that Healdsburg has been chosen,” said Carla Howell, Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “We are definitely a terrific place for fairies to live.”

She mentions the town library’s recent class on fairy house building as evidence of the town’s hospitality toward the diminutive folk, which is supposed to bring good luck. Howell wouldn’t venture a guess on who’s creating the doors exactly.

Healdsburg Police Sergeant John Haviland, 50, believes there’s an artistic hand behind the fairy doors “Knowing Healdsburg, I would suspect from the quirkiness that there’s an artistic local resident involved.”

When asked how he would investigate the mystery he said he wouldn’t. “Well, there’s no crime,” he said, “unless someone reported vandalism.”

Healdsburg joins a small list of towns in the United States and Ireland where urban fairy doors have been found: Alameda, Calif.; Ann Arbor, Berkley, Northville and Tecumseh, Mich.; Putnam, Conn.; Richmond, Ind.; Hemstead, N.Y.; Dublin, Ohio; Donegal Town, Ireland.

The Healdsburg fairy doors, like those in other towns worldwide, often share an architectural or design motif with host buildings.

At the Stafford Gallery owner Christina Stafford says their fairy door reflects the overall Greek Revival look of the building in addition to the eclectic curated collection of the art gallery.

“I love the fairy door,” Stafford says. “It was already here when we moved into the building. I added a painting of course, and a welcome mat and some topiary.”

To her amazement, her door was covertly decorated at Christmas and for spring.

After the fairies moved in, they presumably began to be visited by friends and family. The next fairy doors to be noticed were at The Inn on the Plaza and the Camellia Inn.

Inn on the Plaza staff claim no knowledge of their door other than that it exists. At the Camellia Inn, where the owners are of Scottish and Irish ancestry, the door appeared this year right before St. Patrick’s Day and the fairies appear to be of a more jet-setting milieu. Soon afterward, the door with an ornamental floral motif appeared, a tiny green Volkswagen and a helicopter were seen at various times parked nearby. Then, at the Koi Pond adjacent to the door, a miniature boat was sometimes docked.

“I think we were chosen because they know we often have Celtic music here,” Lucy Lewand, the inn’s owner says. “That may be the attraction. I was surprised but delighted. Just as our ancestors came here as immigrants, we are happy to see these new emigres and their guests.”

“We know that fairies enjoy water, delicious smells, lively music to dance to in the moonlight, dawn and twilight and shady trees. The inn, surrounded by our Luther Burbank planted camellia trees, seems like it should have always had fairies,” Lewand says.

Although she has not yet witnessed any fairies and doesn’t know if the door creator was 5-feet or 5-inches tall, real or mystical, she has seen gifts of food left at the door. “Fairies have a fondness for bread, especially with honey, and particularly the end crusts,” she says.

“I saw bread and a small cupped leaf filled with milk at the door one day. Maybe for an arriving guest. The next time I looked, there were just a few crumbs and a drop of milk left. I hear they also delight in berries, freshly brewed tea and a thimble of whiskey. I am always hoping to catch a glimpse.”

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