Antique dollhouse finds a new home

By Beth A. Birmingham | Feb 06, 2017
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Claire Coffey takes a look at the dollhouse her father built her more than 80 years ago and that she had added to throughout the years. It is finally making its way to her great-granddaugters in Massachusetts.

Owls Head — An 83-year-old homemade dollhouse is making its way from Owls Head to its new home in Massachusetts.

Claire Coffey's childhood playland, made by her father, Albert Brickley, is being disassembled and taken by car to her three great-granddaughters in Winchester, Mass.

Coffey, who moved to Maine herself in 1936, said the dollhouse didn't come with her at that point but stayed at her grandmother and aunt's house until she was more than 50 years old.

"Finally I said to my husband, 'Boy, I'd really love to have that [dollhouse],'" Coffey said, "We only had boys, so I didn't try to get it earlier."

Coffey said they had two boys -- Pete, who used to work for The Courier-Gazette, and Richard of Windham -- then they had two grandsons.

"But now, we have three great-granddaughters," she exclaimed. "Somebody finally found the right combination" she said of grandson Brad.

Now she can finally hand the family piece down to some youngsters who have expressed an avid interest in it. Sadie, 7, Aria, 5, and 20-month-old Kylie Claire -- aptly named -- will now have the responsibility of keeping house ... so to speak.

"Bear in mind, this was built during the Depression," Coffey said.

Complete with continuous electrical circuiting for ceiling lamps, chandeliers, and even a glow in the fireplace, the antique dollhouse has everything. Claire's husband, Andy, refinished the woodwork around the windows and even made tiny frames for the hand-painted wall decorations she has made throughout the years.

"Those were acts of love," she said.

Coffey said she can even put curtains up along the windows thanks to her husband's handiwork.

She said some of the furnishings were from kits she had picked up here and there, and others were handmade -- including several miniature braided rugs and wall paintings.

Using very fine brushes and having good eyesight, Coffey said some projects were easier than others. She admitted she never painted anything until after she was 50 years old.

Coffey said she already has in mind a special project for the house, but will disclose that at a later date so as not tp ruin the surprise for the recipients. And although she worries about the tiny pieces and two of her great-granddaughters being fairly young, she is very excited for the eldest.

"When she first saw it, she was very excited," Coffey said of her great-granddaughter Sadie. Although it is not clear just who will be responsible for the weekly cleaning.

The rooms -- kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedrooms, eating area -- sport wallpaper that the Coffeys had left over from their various homes.

"It's just like this house," Coffey said. "It's eclectic."

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at

Claire Coffey holds a miniature painting she made for her dollhouse. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Even a dollhouse would not be complete without a bathroom. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
The braided rug is one piece of Claire Coffey's handiwork in this two-and-a-half story antique dollhouse her father built for her more than 80 years ago. It even has working lights and a fireplace. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
The kitchen sports a cast iron-like stove and wooden ice box. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
The rear view of the dollhouse. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Claire Coffey stands beside her two-and-a-half-story dollhouse. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Peeking through one of the front windows into the eating room. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
The living room has a grand piano and another of Claire Coffey's handmade rugs. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
The three white pieces are the originals that were included with the dollhouse her father built her. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
One of the bedrooms, complete with an oil lamp, bed warmer, stand-up mirror and lighted ceiling lamp. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
A miniature rolltop desk and wall light fixture are just a couple of the intricate parts of this antique dollhouse. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Comments (2)
Posted by: jean marie gover | Feb 07, 2017 11:42

Beautiful Doll house!

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Feb 06, 2017 15:00

Wonderful! I am sure the great-Granddaughters will love it! What a nice feeling Great-Gamma must have to pass on such an artistic treasure and family memories.

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