Saturday, June 11, 2011

Antique Dollhouse from Pennsylvania

I recently took a road trip to Amish country in Pennsylvania to pick up a dollhouse. My sister came with me and we had a wonderful girls' weekend. The weather was sunny and warm. Pennsylvania was beautiful. And our quest was satisfied when we arrived at our destination and found this incredible dollhouse waiting for us.

This dollhouse is said to be from a prominent Pennsylvania family. It is 99 years old, and was refurbished sometime within the last thirty years.

I am hoping to be able to restore it, but I thought I would share it first.
This metal plate is on the end chimney. It is possible that S.W. is the initials of the child it was built for. It is lovely to have such built in provenance.

 I had some fun furnishing the house for this post. Although the house came with furniture most was Strombecker and decades newer than the house. I used my own older furniture to set up these scenes.

The ladies are in the living room enjoying tea.

The wall paper is from the recent renovation. I would like to replace it with a more appropriate pattern.
 The tea table is too new for the house, but I believe the sofa and chairs are old enough. I don't know the age of the commodes, but the lamps are carved bone with parchment shades.

The young lady is a Simon Halbig 1160 doll, and the older lady is from about 1900-1910, I believe.
 The master bedroom is furnished with this lovely wood bedroom suite. I think it might be from the 30's, but haven't identified it yet.

I have stripped the wallpaper from the wall behind the bed. That's why it looks like that.
 All the rooms have high ceilings, so a large one inch scale furniture fits very nicely. The curtains came with the house, and the rug is a tobacco felt.
 This is the upper hall next to the master bedroom. You can see a working pocket door at the left front of the picture. This door opens on a working elevator.
You go from the upper hall into the second bedroom. Again the furniture is too new for the house, but I thought it looked cute and I will find appropriate furniture later. The two little girls are enjoying the bedroom set which is a Wisconsin Goldilocks set. It also has a vanity and rocking chair, but the room is too small for all the pieces.

The curtains came with the house. Notice the frosted glass in the door to the right. This leads to the bathroom.
 I found this miniature framed picture of a man and child in bathing suits and thought it would look cute in the children's room. Maybe it it a fond summer memory for them.
 The bathroom is very special. All the fixtures are built in and original to the house. There is a trap door on the roof above the bathroom where one can pour in water, so that the plumbing actually works. It drains into a copper cistern in the base of the house.

I haven't tried it yet. I am a little nervous about it.

The floor is original and hand painted. I hope I can figure out how to clean it without ruining it.
 The kitchen is in the one storey wing on the left side of the house (when one is facing it). The handmade stove and icebox came with the house. I have a feeling that they are original to the house, but I have no way of knowing for sure.

The table chairs and matching sideboard are German from about 1900, and the high chair is wood with a tin tray and step. I found it on our Pennsylvania trip for $1.00 at a flea market.

The kitchen has a very high ceiling. I am considering putting a second floor in as a low ceilinged servant's bedroom. It would be non permanent, so it wouldn't effect the originality of the house.
 The dining room was also recently papered, and the curtains came with the house. I am hoping to replace the paper, but I can live with it for now.

The furniture is mine, and all is German from about 1900-1920. The colour of the needlepoint rug doesn't really work, but it is the right size.
The downstairs entry hall is quite impressive. Someone electrified the house when the recent renovations were done. You can see the tape for the wires along the wall at the level of the hanging lamp and running up the dividing wall beside the stairs.

The pocket door with the wire window is for the elevator.
Here is a better look at the elevator door.
Here are the six main rooms of the house. The wire cage that runs up beside the living room and master bedroom is the elevator. You can see the crank for it in the base below the cage.

A view of the elevator in the second floor hall.

Granny takes the elevator. to the second floor. Although the ceilings are very high the doors throughout the house aren't. Granny has to stoop a little to fit in the elevator.
Here is Granny exiting the elevator. She is slightly over 6 inches tall and as you can see the doors are slightly under 6 inches tall.

This isn't a problem for me though. I love this house.

I am thrilled to have this wonderful antique dollhouse in my collection. If anyone knows anything about it, or about the furniture I have put in it please leave a comment or email me.

Thanks for visiting.



  1. Beautiful! The bathroom is marvelous. The elevator so unique. Can you show us how large it is in the room? CM

  2. esa casa es una joya, disfrútala

  3. What a fantastic find! A wonderful addition to your collection.

  4. Wow Susan! This is a wonderful house with such great details! I think I would have driven from Alabama to PA to get it myself!
    I really love the windows, doors and the elevator. I wonder what it looked like before someone did the renovation? I love the Goldilocks furniture too. You have found a real treasure!

  5. I don't know anything about the house, except that it is fantastic! I love it and can imagine that you are thrilled to have it.

  6. Hola Susan, has conseguido una pieza de museo, es encantadora, he pasado un rato viendo esas fotos... el inglés no es lo mío, pudiera haber alguna pista de la casa aquí?
    Un abrazo

  7. Oh my gosh, what a great house! The stairs and elevator are too wonderful!

  8. What a thrill! This is a wonderful house! I love hearing about your refurbishing, as I am refurbishing a vintage dollhouse of my own. So glad I found your blog today!

  9. This house is wonderful! And I love Amish country. I am from western/central PA and loved going to the Lancaster area on trips when I was little. :) I can't wait to see more on this house!

  10. Thanks everyone!! I love this house too. I can't wait until I have time to really work on it. Remnants of the original wiring are in the base of the house. I am wondering if I can somehow restore it. The newer wiring and light fixtures don't suit the house. I am sure you will be seeing more of this house soon.


  11. What a fantastic house, Susan! I love the stairs! and the bathroom! And the Elevator!!! Such a "high tech" building for the turn of the last century! My mother grew up in PA and she had a friend who had a dollhouse with real glass windows and electricity and RUNNING WATER! She tells me about it from time to time... but never mentions an elevator! I have always fantasized about the water part.... but I agree with you... it could get messy if any of the hidden parts are broken! I really look forward to seeing this house as you work on it! What a find!

  12. This house is well worth travelling a long way to get it. I wish there were houses like this one to be purchased here. We do have, though, a Helena Rubinstein's collection of antique dollhouses. She donated it to the Tel-Aviv Art Museum where it is exhibited in a special room. Thank you for showing.

  13. Hey, I have that same bedroom set in a different color. (The one you said that you hadn't identified yet.) There is a picture of it in the Diane Zillner book, but I dont have it with me at the moment. Great house, love the elevator!

  14. This house is amazing! I love all of the favorite room is the bathroom!