She was a collector from her childhood and accumulated an amazing collection of artisan furniture, the highlight of which was her outstanding collection of handcrafted furniture by Eric Pearson.She also crafted 1/144 scale "dollhouses for dollhouses" that she sold through Eileen Godfrey's shop and she produced some lovely paintings for her own collection.The ground floor masonry was molded from plaster and then painted while the upper floors feature applied half-timbering and textured paint that started out as white and had turned yellow over time.The interior is as interesting and richly detailed as the exterior.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.Gretchen's son found me on the Internet when he read my comments on this site recounting my introduction to Gretchen's inspiring collection back in 1976.
Some furnishings had to be tossed away, some things were cleaned and kept, and the entire house was scrubbed and cleaned with disinfectant - more than once.
In the meanwhile, I spent a lot of time just studying the layout and the details of the house before deciding what I would retain and what I would change to make the house more to my taste.
For example, the ground floor's staircase was very compressed and steep to fit in a small space, and the kitchen's Victorian wainscot was coated with blu-tac adhesive blobs that would never come out...
Another issue stemmed from Gretchen's smoking habit.
All the acetate windows and the lace curtains were brown from exposure to smoke.
The day after Christmas, my husband and I drove up to Sturbridge, Massachusetts for dinner at the Publick House and the next day we journeyed on to her son's house outside Worcester.