|By Kat McKerrow
A beautifully restored “Painted Lady” mansion is up for bids, but this architectural gem isn’t in San Francisco. It’s in Catonsville, Md., a suburb of Baltimore. Nor will it cost a cool million dollars – the bidding starts at $200. Even better, the house can be moved to any location, since it’s only 47 inches tall.
Best of all, the proceeds from the auction of this miniature mansion will help a worthwhile cause.
Objects Found, an antique and consignment shop located on Frederick Road in Catonsville, is hosting a silent auction for the elegant dollhouse, with bids closing on June 14. The dollhouse was donated by longtime Catonsville residents – and Objects Found customers – Bob and Carlene Cross.
The Crosses have “rehabbed” a number of vintage dollhouses, and when Carlene found this painted lady in grievous condition at a yard sale, she had to have it. However, with a houseful of houses, there was not much room for another.
So she carefully renovated it, created furnishings and decorations for it, and donated it to Objects Found with a special purpose: All proceeds from the sale of the dollhouse will go to Warfighter Sports, a program of Disabled Sports USA that has provided sports-based rehabilitation programs to severely wounded warriors since 1967. Warfighter Sports organizes more than 100 events per year, rehabilitating and training significantly injured active-duty and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces in more than 30 competitive sports and activities. In 2011, more than 1,000 participants were helped. Since Bob himself is a veteran, and the Crosses’ son also served in the military, the charity was a good fit.
“It’s just a cool thing,” said Reggie Sajauskas, the owner of Objects Found. Among the store’s rooms, packed to the brim with furniture, vintage kitchenware, clothing and accessories and fine antiques, the occasional dollhouse has often been showcased. In addition, there’s always a selection of miniatures – from diminutive tea services to vintage plastic dollhouse furniture – available. However, this marks the first time there’s been a special silent auction of a miniature house at the store.
The dollhouse’s six rooms over three stories have been wallpapered, floored and given hand-woven or hand-embroidered rugs. The bed linens have also been hand stitched. Carlene completed all of the needlework herself, as well as crafting almost all of the furniture, from nursery to dining room.
There are charming details: A hand-painted crackling fire in the parlor’s grate, rabbits needle-worked on a nursery rug and an airy window seat in the tower bedroom. Lace curtains hang in every window. The house and its gingerbread trim have been painted shades of beige, green and brick red, and there are two porches for dolls’ relaxation, as well.
This house is ready for dolls, indeed, as this is a dollhouse in the traditional sense of the term. Everything was created or curated, and the house was restored, with a child in mind. The furniture is easy to grasp, and the accessories are not instantly breakable. As well, the house is not electrified for lights.
“Carlene was a longtime third-grade teacher,” Sajauskas explained, “and she designed the house with a child in mind. She thought that it would be great to start the summer vacation with. It would definitely be a great gift for some little girl.”
Objects Found will host the silent auction until Flag Day, June 14. The bidding was started at $200, and the house is displayed in the antique shop while bids are collected. Sajauskas is planning an event to occur when bidding closes, at 6 p.m., with “wine and chocolate,” she said.
She hopes that the silent auction, as well as the concluding “ceremonies” will attract new shoppers to her store, which, nestled among a block of restaurants, already receives a good amount of foot traffic.
On a warm late-spring evening, Objects Found is busy with collectors, antique aficionados and the downright curious, browsing the shop’s selection.
A few young women stop to admire the miniature house, “oohing” and “ahhing” over the tiny details. The silent auction is not merely a nice attraction for the store, but also an event for a good cause.