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My First Dollhouse - Williamsburg


Kells
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I'm feeling maudlin today but I knew only the members of this forum would understand what a dollhouse can mean to a person. I came across a padded envelope at the bottom of a box while searching for something else. Inside was the door from my very first dollhouse. Well, my first REAL dollhouse anyway. My first was some horrible Arrow kit that eventually ended up where it belonged: in a fireplace, haha. I let a cousin have my coveted dollhouse when I went off to college. She let her daughter play with it from ages 2 through 5. Nothing survived but a couple dormers and the chimneys - which I've since used on another house - and the front door.

Norm, of Norm's Dollhouses in Colorado, built the house for me, before he was sadly murdered. I paid for it with what little money I made at a crappy summer job serving ice cream at a Baskin Robbins when I was in my early teens. I bet I had to work half a day at minimum wage just to pay for this Carlson's front door!

On a summer trip to Williamsburg, my mother picked up some pretty watercolors from a local artist of colonial homes in town. Those paintings hung on either side of a maple hutch in our breakfast nook, along with some pewter and painted plates. My house was based on one of them. We took the painting to Norm and basically requested a 1/12th copy of it.

I went on the hunt to find a picture or painting of that house (no idea what happened to the original watercolors my mother had) and found a photo of the house. I remember that painting very well, and this is the house.

Homes-of-Colonial-Williamsburg-Va3.jpg

I omitted the porch on my dollhouse and the roof was shorter, due to the dimensions of the dollhouse. It was about 48" long (exterior incl. roof), 18" deep. Nice size rooms, 18" square on either side of a wide center hallway. The chimneys weren't as tall. And, of course, I stuck on the Carlson's front door. I edited that photograph above and got very close to what my dollhouse looked like! :D Pic at the bottom. The door on my edit is a photo I just took of the actual front door I just found that somehow miraculously survived Toddler Armageddon.

Finding this door got me a bit teary-eyed thinking of that dollhouse, but mostly my mother. Taking me to the library to check out books of colonial interiors so I could spend hours poring over furniture, accessories, fireplaces, paneling details, etc. Helping me build half the kits House of Miniatures ever made in order to furnish it. Finding fabric scraps that kinda-sorta passed for quilts but really didn't, and were probably things I wouldn't dream of putting into a dollhouse now that I know better, lol. Mom letting me make all the decisions but diplomatically guiding me with comments like, "The colonists really didn't use a color like purple in their homes . . . " or, "This style of chair didn't exist until the 1850s . . ."

Anyway, thanks for letting me wander down memory lane. Here's the pic I edited. I got it pretty darn close to what my dollhouse looked like! How I wish I had an actual photograph. But at least I have many happy memories of it and the time spent on it with Mom. If this brought up any memories for you, please share!

Williamsburg.jpg

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I really wasn't trying to bring anyone down, just remembering happy times with my mom. Sad story for what happened to the dollhouse though! I'm not going to recreate it. I've considered it many times but the past is past. I have too many dollhouses as it is, and I definitely don't need another colonial.

Thankfully, I didn't give my cousin the contents of the house. She filled it with old Tomy, Renwal and Marx plastic furniture appropriate for a child. Too bad she didn't think how inappropriate a detailed dollhouse was for a kid, right?? Except for the earliest pieces I did that were so badly finished, I actually still have most of that furniture. Much of it is in my James River Tidewater house. Give a quick scan of the pics and I bet you'll recognize some of those kits!

https://forum.greenleafdollhouses.com/gallery/album/8407-1730-tidewater-plantation-house/

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My sad story is a bit long, but anyway: My Mummy is American, Daddy German, I grew up in Northern Ireland. Granny Jeri lived in South Bend in a big green house with white trim and porch. We visited her every two years or so, and one year for my birthday she gave me my mum's old dollhouse. It was a big single story thing with a roof that lifted off to access the rooms. I got a few random dollhouse bits to use in the house, but it was way too big and heavy to take home to Germany where we lived at the time. So either that trip or the next we went via a dollhouse shop, I want to say at the Outlet Mall in Michigan City, and bought a kit to build that we could take home with us. We chose the Franklin Artply kit - Granny's maiden name was Franklin, and it looked quite like the house she lived in. 

I remember painting bits of it when I was probably 11, green with white trim, though don't particularly remember putting it together. Anyway I played with it plenty. We then moved back to Northern Ireland and all our stuff went in a container by sea. There was a huge storm on the way and another container fell on ours on it's way into the ocean and made a big hole in ours - but the dollhouse survived with a few dents and scratches rather than in smithereens. We'd never shingled it - obviously a big job and not particularly needed by an 11 year old. In Northern Ireland Granny came to visit us a couple times, and the second time she came she glued on all the millions of shingles, bless her. 

When I was 19 or so my family again moved, Mummy, me and my sister from Northern Ireland to England, Daddy to Southern Ireland. Some of our stuff came with us, some went with Daddy. Dollhouse went with Daddy. He then moved to another part of England and my house got left behind - he didn't think I needed it any more and gave it to the kindergarden there. I was so sad!! I had no idea what the house was called or who made it. Anyway, my search started and I eventually found this forum and fabulous house identifiers, who could tell me from a photo which house it was, and that sadly Artply were out of business. I searched and waited and searched and waited and eventually found a kit - only to receive a box with many pieces punched out and missing. Again waited and searched some more and finally I found someone on here that was willing to sell me the kit. I got it and started the process of making a house, but decided I wanted to bash it quite a bit to make it even more like Granny's house. A move and then family got in the way and it remains in storage until I have the time to devote to building it again. But I'm always reminded of the great times we had at Granny's house when I think of it and I'm looking forward to it being finished (in the distant future).

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It's a shame you lost the original, Muriel, but look at it this way, now you get to create what you really want from the same kit. Take it from someone who's done both, starting from scratch is a heckuva lot easier than rehabbing one that's already built and finished!

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