Story Behind the Doll House


People have started asking me about this huge occupant of my living room. After all, you can’t miss it. It takes up a lot of room! Little girls head straight for the house to peer inside the rooms and look at all the activities outside. This particular photo was taken last Easter. My Easter display won’t look exactly like this in 2014, but you can bet the house will be decorated!

In November or December 2005, Howard found this partially completed structure in our local Habitat for Humanity Store. He heard me say for years that I wanted to do a dollhouse in my retirement years. Well, I wasn’t retired in 2005 and had three and a half years to go. Howard decided making such a find again would be impossible, so he bought it.

“Now, this box goes with it,” the clerk told him, referring to a cardboard box labeled “Dollhouse Junk.” [Not a nice way to label a box if you truly loved the dollhouse!]

Two women came into the shop with big purses. Howard was looking up an aisle, but he could overhear the conversation at the front of the store. He has extremely keen hearing.

“This has been sold!” the clerk advised them.

The women began shuffling through the box.

“And that goes with the house, so please stay out of it!”

A little later–

“I told you, this has been sold. So please don’t touch that box!”

Howard decided to move the box to the car and lock it up in there. Otherwise, it could be empty by the time he arrived home.

Fortunately, the neighbor was home and saw him struggling with the house, attempting to remove it from the trunk. She sprang into action, and helped him carry it into the house. It was waiting in the living room for me when I arrived home.

“I’m afraid some of the pieces may be missing,” Howard told me. “A couple of women were rifling through that box, and I think they made off with some of the furniture.”

The furniture didn’t bother me, I told him. Years ago, I had purchased furniture kits I could put together. No problem!

It was a year before I even touched the house. I found the original booklet inside the box. It was a Southern Plantation Mansion kit with a copyright date of 1979. The kit was made by a company in Illinois and was purchased by a lady who lived in Michigan in 1980 or 1981. The receipts I found inside the box were all dated for those years.

“So, how did the house travel from Michigan to Denver?” I wondered.

This part is all imagined. The lady in Michigan was elderly, and I think her husband helped her with the early construction. He may have died because by 1982, all work on the house ceased. The woman may have had a son in the Denver area who decided to move Mom into his house. She wouldn’t leave Michigan without her dollhouse, so that’s how the house made the trip. And when the house arrived at the son’s house, his angry wife told him, “That monstrosity is not coming into my house!” So it was consigned to the porch where it sat for a number of years. [I’ve seen so many large dollhouses sitting on front porches over the years–a horrible place to put them! I found evidence of some moisture on the upper floors, so it was undoubtedly sitting unprotected on a porch.] And the box labeled “Dollhouse Junk?” The original owner died, and her daughter-in-law decided to give the house and its box to the local Habitat for Humanity Store. The label on the box was definitely a woman’s handwriting; the original owner of the house would not have labeled her project “junk”! The daughter-in-law was only too happy to see it off her porch and out of her life!

It took me four years to get the house to where it is today. I shingled the roof. The carport took some imagination because it is still the weakest part of the structure and sometimes collapses. Not only did I put all the furniture kits together, but I was so fortunate on a trip through Abilene, Kansas in 2006. We stopped at an antique and collectible store there. The top of one counter had a whole collection of kit-made dollhouse furniture all completed and requiring no effort. I found the main family in a collectible store in Fort Scott, Kansas in the spring of 2006. Since then, I’ve added others.

Structurally, the house is finished. Every once in a while, I need to repair something. And from time to time, I find some object my house cannot do without. Each room is designed for a particular holiday, and I move the main family from room to room each month and to the outside patio April through September.

Yesterday I saw an article concerning expensive presents rich kids get for Christmas. One item was a dollhouse with a $57,000 price tag on it. Howard paid $90 dollhouse for this partially completed structure and the box. I looked at the picture of the expensive item and thought, “It can’t hold a candle to mine!”

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