Special to the Citizen
On May 4th and 5th, during the Madison in May Tour of Homes, the restored Richter Cottage was adorned with well-loved dolls and Teddy bears, each with a history of its own.
Over 125 dolls were displayed, filling every space and piece of furniture in the cottage.
Twenty-seven different owners shared personal stories of their favorite dolls, some hand-made by family members, some over 100 years old, some bought as a collection from popular movies, fairy tales, and children’s stories of the time – “The Wizard of Oz,” “Humpty Dumpty,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
Other collections included such special brands as Steiff miniature bears, Mrs. Beasley, Cabbage Patch, Madame Alexander, the Ginny series, Lizzie High, Horsman, and Barbie Dolls.
Co-Chairs Nancy Brock and Wendy Brockman provided the artistic genius behind the displays.
For each doll or collection, a card with the specific story was included, sometimes with a picture of the original owner. In one instance, a set of marionettes were displayed in a theater setting, custom-made by the owner.
Catherine Sasnett, a member of several Doll Associations, served as a consultant and participated in background information for each of the displays. She chose her favorites for the” Critic’s Choice Award,” two hand-made Black-Americana dolls, owned by David Land’s mother, who was born in Florida in 1913. They were chosen for their rarity, and the fact that they were hand-made, an American cultural endeavor at a time when there were no Black-Americana dolls to be purchased.
The “People’s Choice Award,” selected by vote of the viewers, was “Judy,” owned by Ellen West Sanders and hand-made by her grandmother. “Judy” has been a family doll, having been played with by Ellen and her daughters. The day that Ellen learned that “Judy” was the People’s Choice happened to be her grandmother’s birthday, a wonderful way of remembering her.
Presenting this display of dolls, covering over 100 years of cultural history, at the historic Richter Cottage was a successful way of fulfilling the Mission of Morgan County Landmarks Society: to educate the public about historic landmarks, landscapes, and the culture of Morgan County.