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The Long Island Dolls’ House

Sunday, May 15, 2011

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Today, I have a wonderful story to share with all of you. But it is not my own story, so I am delighted to introduce a guest blogger. Please welcome Ann Meehan to Susan's Mini Homes. Below is her story of the incredible Long Island Doll's House. (check out Ann's own website here for more incredible stories.) The story of the restoration is as fascinating as the history of the house.

A spectacular dolls’ house is found in Long Island!!  

The Exterior of the Long Island Doll's House
The house is from around 1890 and was kept in a garage on Long Island for 47 years before the owner decided to part with it. Her father, Michael Trotta , had given it to her when she was four years old! He had found it abandoned in a house fire in which he was hired to clean out the home. His business was called Joe Trotta and Sons in Glen Cove, Long Island.

The dolls’ house exterior is heavily carved with brackets and fine design work under the roof. Medallions are found between windows. Fine bead work appears around windows and columns.  The house is painted in three shades of old green paint with mahogany stained windows. The color combination creates a façade that is soft and beautiful.  The windows were made to go up and down! They were damaged when a group of boy threw balls at the dollhouse for target practice.

The base of the house has painted brick work and on each side is an awning representing a basement window. If you look closer, you see the awning is really a handle for a drawer. So if you pull on the awning, out comes a drawer. The drawer on the right has a complete hook-up for a door bell. When you push the drawer shut, the doorbell will ring! A similar drawer on the left has some wooden parts that go in the house.

An overview of the interior showing all six rooms
There are six rooms in the house. The main four rooms have hand carved fireplaces with beveled mirrors and carved columns under the mantle. (The other two rooms are a bathroom and kitchen.) One fireplace has carved figures holding up the mantle. Finely turned posts are found on top of the mantles that connect up to the tops of the mirrors. A large opening between the dining room and parlor has a finely carved piece of decoration up at the ceiling. It needed to be attached along with a column to connect it to a base. ( The pieces were in a bag in the drawer of the house on the left side.) Quite unbelievable, when you think of the time it must have taken to build this house!

The Kitchen with the built in stove and sinks. The wooden floor in the kitchen resembles tile.

The kitchen has wonderful built-in double sinks in metal with wooden stained covers hinged to the back. A large metal black stove has a hot water heater that is connected with pipes to the double sinks and another metal sink. The other sink could be used to wash mops or be used for other kitchen chores. The kitchen floor is carved and painted with a border that looks like linoleum. The most amazing piece in the kitchen is the dumb waiter. It begins in the kitchen in the left hand corner of the room. A beautifully carved door opens and a series of shelves to transport food is elevated by a string on a pulley. It can be operated to stop at each floor. The pulley is on the third floor, on the partition to the right side room. One can see it on the partition, up at the top!

This doorway from the kitchen into the bathroom was
missing when the house was acquired.

This is the dumb waiter in the kitchen -the original door
was used as a model to copy for other missing doors.

The kitchen sinks were all intact.

We added a tank to the toilet. We found the name of the
company that made the toilet on the rim of the toilet bowl!

The bathroom has a large cast iron tub on paw feet. What is really unusual is the fine painting on the back and side of the tub; there is a cupid holding a garland of flowers. I have never seen a piece like this nor have I seen the cast iron sink with a porcelain bowl in the center, as this ine has. There is a drain in the sink connecting to pipes underneath. The high tank toilet is quite unusual with a blue and white porcelain bowl molded in various curves to make it more of a decorative urn!!! The floor in the bathroom is scored to look like tiles and is painted cream with a border in a soft mauve color.

2nd floor- the archway dividing the two rooms. A lot of this was
missing and we had to use parts and pieces and make new
ones to complete all the carved spindles etc.



2nd floor -left side room. The fireplace.

The main work in this room was putting the fireplace spindles
back together and making new ones!

All the ceiling papers were carefully removed and
placed back on the ceiling. Here is one of them.

The crown molding and wallpaper in this room.
Ceiling wallpapers are beautifully painted with borders (a couple of these have to be glued back in place) and beaded trim work. With the wooden crown moldings it certainly makes an impressive design when painted to go with the original wallpapers! The wallpapers are all small prints and the paper has a sheen to it which gives a very elegant feeling to the room. The window frames are carved and have rosettes in each corner.

A close up of the figurines carved on each side of the fireplace and to point out the tile work.

This is the dumb waiter on the 2nd floor - right room. The door
was missing and copied from the one on the first floor.

2nd floor - right room -  the ceiling papers restored 

A study of the crown molding with wallpaper in the right room of the 2nd floor.




We are now on the 3rd floor-right room. This room also has the dumb waiter
and it is all hooked up to work on all three floors.
How the dumb waiter works. A thin chain with a piece of metal on the end
runs up and down through partitions. Up at the top of the partitions
I can grab the piece of metal and pull the chain down.

You pull the chain down and stick it into a hole in the front of the house.
This allows the dumb waiter to stop on the second floor. To move it to the
third floor, pull the chain down farther and put the metal piece into the hole.

 This is the 3rd floor- room to the left. (The wallpaper had been painted white!!!).
I had in my collection of wallpaper, a small print which went perfectly in this room.

Detail of the wallpaper.

Detail of the wallpaper.

The ceiling wallpaper is restored.



Elsie, whose name is painted on the windows of the front door, was probably the first owner. Lucky girl!!

The front entrance has two doors with glass windows. The name “Elsie” written in script on the glass. The doors have incredible detail of carved wood, tiny bead work and very special door knobs and escutcheons. Above the glass doors are glass transoms with black and gold numbers; one door has “1900” and the other door has “1901”. It almost reminds you of a New York brownstone.
The house opens from the front in an ingenuous way…the carved moldings on the roof are about four inches deep, you raise the roof which unclamps the front façade and then lay the roof back down. (The roof is hinged from the back). It eliminates hooks and pieces that would never be seen on a real house! This is truly one of the best architectural dolls’ houses I have ever seen.

The exterior has now been restored with all the working windows and pieces, like the balcony railing and railings to the exterior stairs are in place and the second front door can be seen now.

Restoration takes time and patience, and there is more to do, but I wanted to share with your readers what we have accomplished so far.

Ann Meehan, ads
 

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