I made it clear to her son that I intended to respect Gretchen's memory and honor her personal qualities when the house came home with me.
He understood that I would redecorate it to my own taste and might part with some of the furnishings, but that I would always treasure it as Gretchen's house.
It was both a first and a last for me, I can assure you.
In any case, it arrived safe and sound along with a large container filled with vintage building materials and all sorts of odds and ends from Gretchen's stash, including some components I used in the renovations to the house.
Another issue stemmed from Gretchen's smoking habit.
All the acetate windows and the lace curtains were brown from exposure to smoke.
In an eerie coincidence, the day it became mine was both my wedding anniversary, the also the anniversary of Gretchen's death five years earlier, so the day was colored by some emotion on both sides.
Her son said he thought she would have been glad I got the house and I like to think so as well. I won't upset you with a description of the way we brought the house home to New Jersey with everything still in it!She often added her own embellishments to the commercial items.Gretchen had sold all her other houses by the early 2000's (I knew her Howard Hartmann colonial house had been sold to Jane Haskell) but Gretchen kept this one because it was so deeply personal.The house was in his basement and it was indeed the dollhouse from Gretchen's kitchen: a substantial mock-Tudor suburban house that replicated Gretchen's childhood home in Pittsburgh and still populated by the miniature mouse family Gretchen had dressed herself.Although her family did not know who built it, I eventually recalled it had been constructed by Joen Ellen Kanze of White Plains, NY.Mrs Kanze built one-of-a-kind dollhouses and because she was a good friend of Molly Brody's, she always got the booth right inside the doors at Molly's semi-annual miniatures show in Darien. Kanze was cheerful woman with a good sense of humor and she made the house to Gretchen's specifications.