Dad built a dollhouse for Christmas

Barbara Rothaermel and her dollhouse on Christmas Day 1934.

In 1934, my dad, J. Ross Rothaermel, built a wooden dollhouse for my sister Barbara. An architect friend drew blueprints for a two-story colonial house. (We still have the blueprints.) When finished, the house sat in the middle of a five-by-two-foot grass-covered yard containing a walkway with trellis adorned with climbing roses that led to a driveway and garage.

The house and yard sat on a table that rolled on wheels. The chimney had a big metal “B” on it for Barbara. Downstairs there was a living room with fireplace, front hall with hall closet, and dining room. The kitchen was housed in a one-story addition next to the dining room. Upstairs was the master bedroom with another fireplace, bathroom and children’s room. A porch was over the kitchen.

The children’s bedroom furniture was green, the bathroom purple, the kitchen orange and the porch red. The living room, dining room and master bedroom furniture was stained walnut. The mullions in the windows were made of square toothpicks and the shutters were corrugated paper. The wooden front door had a metal door knocker and handle. Every room had a light bulb in the ceiling to light the room. The fireplaces had red lights in them to look like fire.

My dad worked at the Cleveland Trust Company. Many of his employees got in on the fun and surprised him with a doll house shower. They knit and sewed curtains and rugs and built a metal birdcage. Tiny glass dishes and a painted picture for above the sofa appeared. They went to Halle’s and purchased twin beds, cedar chests, a desk, dresser, dining room table and chairs. (Some of the price tags showing 15 cents and 25 cents are still attached.)

The Cleveland Trust Co. made home loans and one year the dollhouse was displayed on a turn table in a window facing East 9th Street. Above it was a sign that read: “Get your home loan here.”

The dollhouse is in my living room today.

kay laughlin

I am the Historian for the Bay Village Historical Society, member and Past President, 1976. Lived in the village since 1936.  I was part of a team that developed the Cahoon farmhouse into Rose Hill Museum in 1973.  I participated by inventoring the Cahoon items and serving as the first Accessions Chairman and as a Docent at the museum for 20 years.  I was part of the committee that brought the Osborn house to Cahoon Memorial Park in 1995 and turned it into a learning center.  Along with my sister, Gay Menning, and the society, we wrote the 'Bay Way of Life' history book in 1974.  When Ginny Peterson asked for my help, I offered my historical pictures and wrote the captions for the Arcadia picture book, 'Bay Village,' published in 2007.  

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Volume 8, Issue 24, Posted 10:04 AM, 12.13.2016