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Book Review: America’s Doll House

book_doll1I had just about given up with the idea of reviewing books here until America’s Doll House: The Miniature World of Faith Bradford arrived from Princeton Architectural Press. This was a fascinating little book on a historic doll house that still attracts admirers at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. The first half consists of author William L. Bird’s chronicle of dollhouse enthusiast Faith Bradford and her efforts to find permanent homes for her intricate (and rarely played with) creations. Although the narrative deals plenty with the life and eccentricity of archetypal spinster Bradford, it takes an interesting and more worthwhile detour in detailing the Smithsonian’s growing pains in the ’50s and ’60s. “The Nation’s Attic,” it seemed, had an ambivalent attitude towards Bradford’s popular yet historically suspect flights of fancy.

Turn to the book’s second half and you get to see what the fuss was about: close-up images of the rooms in Bradford’s magnum opus, The Dolls’ House. The four-story, 20 room Dolls’ House is a nostalgic early 20th century manor inhabited by Peter and Rose Doll, ten children, two grandparents, five household staff, and twenty assorted pets. Bradford’s charming handiwork extended beyond the home’s walls, as she also gave each family member a back story and cataloged tiny swatches of curtains, rugs, wallpapers and such in neatly typed notebooks (pages from which are also shown in the book). In our instant age of internet-fueled, out-of-context idiocy, such meticulousness is to be admired.

Buy America’s Doll House: The Miniature World of Faith Bradford at Amazon.com here.

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