NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The New Brunswick Free Public Library re-introduced a piece of its decorative history recently when staff unveiled a newly-refurbished dollhouse that has been with the library for more than 87 years.
The dollhouse was placed in storage a few years ago in order to be refurbished, said Children’s Librarian Sara Warrick, but the library had previously been unable to find anyone to complete the task.
“To pay someone to refurbish it would have been very expensive, but we were lucky enough to find a group willing to donate their time and expertise to refurbish it,” she said.
That group was the Jersey Shore Miniature Society, a branch of the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts (NAME).
New Jersey State Representative for NAME, Patricia L. Brown, said although time consuming, working on the dollhouse was a tremendously rewarding experience.
“This is really the first project of this size that we’ve taken on,” she said. “Everybody donated items as well, [and] bought really good pieces in.”
At first glance, the project seemed almost too daunting of a task for the Jersey Shore Miniature Society to pick up, Brown said.
“The first time everybody saw the house it was like, ‘yeah, this isn’t going to work,’” she said. “But by the end of the [first] night we were just looking at different things and different mediums to work that would look really good, and that’s how it continued.”
Brown said despite being both large and heavy —upwards of 150 pounds —the months of time and labor spent on revitalizing the antique structure was worth it in the end.
“Everybody worked very hard,” she said. “This club has been in existence for 25 years and we all follow our motto: ‘Only by sharing can we really enjoy our treasures.’ We just felt that this might be something nice to give back.
The items used to refurbish the dollhouse were collected from both the library and by club members, including former JSMS member Nancy Carroll, now living in Florida.
As for the dollhouses monetary worth, Brown believes it is near priceless.
“The library items are very collectable,” she said, explaining that some of the furniture, among other things, are rare pieces from around the 1950’s. “Our items were saved over many years; many were made by artists that are no longer with us. Many were signed pieces and dated, and some of them are one-of-a-kind pieces.”
After the re-unveiling last month, the dollhouse was dedicated to former children’s librarian Laura Malman Konisberg, who passed away last year, Warrick said.
“It’s a great thing to have in a library that is also old,” she said. “It’s always been something that adults remember as children and always come back and ask for, so we wanted to make sure that it was something worthy of their memories.”