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Cool Things - Victorian Dollhouse

Victorian dollhouse

Dollhouses are usually associated with childhood. This piece of folk art, though, speaks to the talented vision of an adult. Every piece of furniture, every plate and book, was made by hand.

This dollhouse was made by Irene Swanson Manly (1905-2000), who was born near Lincolnville, Kansas. She married Ralza Manly and they moved to a farm near Osawatomie. Manly began making dollhouses in the 1960s, well after her children were grown. Unfortunately, some of her early creations were destroyed in a house fire.

Manly's sons offered this dollhouse to the Kansas Museum of History after their mother's death. According to them, Manly patterned this dollhouse after the Victorian home in which she grew up. More than a toy, it is a piece of Kansas folk art and a testament to her creativity and ingenuity.

A collector as well as an artist, Manly had a unique way of seeing things. A pickle jar, a hors d'oeurve fork, a zipper-- all could be turned into house furnishings for her dollhouse. She even incorporated photographs of her grandchildren into the house.

View other images of Irene Manly's dollhouse:

Entry: Cool Things - Victorian Dollhouse

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: January 2002

Date Modified: November 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.