01 May 2013

Surprising My Mother with a Dollhouse

In June of 2012, I wrote this a plea on a few miniatures websites. A lovely woman from Texas made my dreams come true! Here's how:

Let's start with the letter. It explains everything in detail:

Good evening enthusiasts!

I have an odd quandry with a bit of a sordid background. First, the tragic tale...

In the mid-eighties my mother purchased a Duracraft Queen Anne dollhouse kit. While I slept at night, she crept back down the stairs, hauled the thing out of a closet, and toiled away throughout the summer on the kit. She built the dollhouse to look exactly like the picture on the box. It took her many months and was her first dollhouse kit. She added casters to the base so it could be easily wheeled around the house.

Dollhouses had always been something in which my mother was interested. As a child, she did not have one, but enjoyed visiting her neighbor who did and spent many hours playing house with the dollhouse. I, on the other hand, was not an enthusiast. At six years of age, I was more interested in GI Joes, Army Men and decapatating Barbies than I was a dollhouse.

Above: Amanda and her dollhouse on Christmas Day.

Thus, I have an interesting photograph of myself on Christmas Day, looking less than enthused with the fully furnished dollhouse and Victorian family inside. As I grew up, I trashed the dollhouse. I have photographs of me in my bedroom, the dollhouse full of grass and snakes, hamsters and mice - the beautiful furniture my mother had made wasted, the investment ruined.The dollhouse was full of graffiti and the flower boxes on the windows torn away.

When I turned 19, I was visiting a Goodwill store and found a battered dollhouse. It was graffitied and looked as though it had been used as an animal storage bin. I suddenly felt a pang of regret. All of that beautiful work my mother had gone through, I had ruined it. I had ruined my gorgeous dollhouse - something she had thought I would treasure and keep for a lifetime and possibly share with a little girl of my own.

Above: The remodeled dollhouse from Goodwill.

I am now 28 years of age and am working on my 13th dollhouse. I buy them neglected, as kits or otherwise discarded, electrify them and bring them back to life. I search and search. For 9 years now I have been looking for my dollhouse. I found a photograph of the turret with some grass in it. I had nothing else to go by until this spring. My mother was putting together a scrapbook and lo' and behold I found some photographs of the dollhouse. I borrowed them, scanned them and returned them silently. I now had photographic evidence of what it really looked like. I knew I could find it, but how? I had no name for it, no kit name, no maker or brand.

Above: Amanda's original photograph which left no leads.

This evening a friend who has decided to "get into" miniatures (oh, don't we all know that's an understatement!) purchased a doll's house from a garage sale. It had a steep slope to the roof and was reminiscent of the dollhouse I once loved. I knew it had to be from the same maker since it had flowerboxes under the windows. I just KNEW it would be right. Once again, I had no name, no maker, no anything to go by except a google search of dollhouses, keywords "chalet, dollhouse, slanted roof".

3.5 hours later I found it. My friend's dollhouse. A duracraft Tudor. I knew the brand and the hunt was on. After 15 minutes I found my dollhouse. I saw an image of the box and burst into tears. There it was, the exact thing my mother had made for me. The thing she had treasured and I had ruined. Now, I want to make amends.10 years of searching had boiled down to one magic moment. I immediately began an eBay search. Nothing. My mother is 66 years old. She's made dozens of dollhouses since my Duracraft. I am now seeking the Queen Anne kit.

I would like to purchase, trade, beg, borrow or barter for a Duracraft Queen Anne dollhouse kit or assembled house. I want to surprise my mother this Christmas the way that she surprised me when I was a child. I also want to see the look on her face when she sees the dollhouse she had made me. I want it to be her keepsake. I plan to electrify it, paper it and furnish it.

If you know of anyone who has this kit and would be willing to sell it, please let me know. I would LOVE to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,
Amanda - Repentent Miniature Enthusiast

Next, here's the first letter I got from Liz!

Liz and her husband were like a dream come true! I sent them the money and a few weeks later, the dollhouse arrived! I decided to build it and give it to Mom for Christmas. Before I could start, Mom's ESP kicked in and she phoned me. "I'm thinking I might build a dollhouse. Which brand do you recommend? I can't remember what's good!"

I told her I might have a kit she'd like and asked my mom to come by. When she did, I videotaped her and surprised her with the dollhouse. Here's her reaction. She said, "Oh, oh my!"

Here's Mom's progress as of last fall. I haven't taken any newer pictures since she's finished shingling and siding the house. I'll do an updated blog later.

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