Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Franklin

I have already admitted to my dollhouse obsession triggered as I worked on my daughter's childhood dollhouse featured in my first post for this blog, but I really jumped off of the deep end when I found the Franklin at a local antique shop.

I live in a very small town in northern Colorado. At one time it was a thriving farming community, but today it is more of a bedroom community because most residents work out of town. Heck, we don't even have a grocery store anymore. But we do have antique stores: 6 to be exact.

 Ideally situated at a crossroads of two major state highways, our little town gets a lot of traffic, so the antique stores do well. Sometimes I like to just stroll down main street, stopping by each of the little shops to see what's new.

And sometimes I get into a lot of trouble, like the day I wandered into Jen's Antique Mall, located in what used to an old  mercantile, in business for two generations.

Jen has had dollhouses in there before. I wanted to buy one for my little granddaughters, but I my daughter always says  "no." So this time I did not consult her. The more I listened to Jen tell me about this amazing house, the more intrigued I became. The story behind the house was actually very sad. An elderly lady brought it to Jen on consignment to sell because she was leaving her home, moving into assisted living and couldn't take her house with her. Her daughter didn't want it, so she was forced to give it up. At 87, she no longer had need for what obviously had been her passion.

The house was fully furnished with a price tag of $400. I told Jen I needed to consult my husband. And she replied that no I did not. And I thought. No. I don't. So I didn't. Instead I went home an asked him to go back to store to help me load the house.

Pretty pricey, you must be saying. Yes, it was a lot of money, but wait. It also had a companion piece, a   General Store; it, too, was fully furnished.

It took me a while to research the house to find out what it was. It is the Franklin made by the Artply Dollhouse Company, now out of business, once owned by Greenleaf Dollhouses. The kit was first sold in 1979. There are not very many photos of it in a google search, but it can identified from similar houses because it has the balcony with the second story window until I learned which model it was.

I found the first information on Nancy's World, a dollhouse blog that helped my discover the company's history. There was a short discussion on Greenleaf's web site. The kit is no longer in production.

Here is the full view of the house as I was playing it with right after I bought it. It stayed in the dining room for a few weeks then I moved it downstairs because it is so large and takes up a lot of room.

First let's visit the Taft General Store that was "free." If you visit Green Leaf's web site, you will see that the Taft has been re-issued.

My intent for the house and the store is to leave them as the original builder created them.

Some of the accessories had been displayed when the buildings were on display in the antique store, but I was so overwhelmed by the detail to which the lady went to to create a realistic setting for her little store and the house, too.

Each canned good had been created by cutting out tiny little labels and gluing them onto the bland cans.

Candies in the apothecary jars. I added the gum ball machine purchased at Hobby Lobby.

The pets even have a place in the store.

The upstairs apartment has a bedroom and a sitting room. I added the sewing machine, thinking that a young single woman, a seamstress lives upstairs. I may go ahead and finish this room for a seamstress.

The seamstress' room provides a simple living: a chamber pot by the bed, a wash stand in the far corner, and a pitcher  and bowl on the dresser (which I added) The hot water bottle on the bed to keep her feet warm on those cold nights, even her tiny boots.

Both buildings are wired for electricity. On the roof of the general store you can see the exposed wiring. While most of the lights in the house work, I have not yet tried lighting the store.

The house, itself, surely took hours to build with all of intricate wood work on the outside.

I added the chair.

In searching the Internet, I looked for a house with the balcony on the second story bedroom. The Franklin seems to be the only house with such a balcony.

Let's begin our tour on the 3 rd floor. 

Traditionally in the Victorian Era homes, the children were housed on the third floor. This children's play room is full of toys, even a crying naked baby that I added.

I added the little doll who might be playing in the Nanny's room.

The bathroom could use some help, but I intend to keep this house original to honor the original builder so I won't be doing any repairs or fix-ups.

On the second floor, the Man of the House takes a nap in his skivvies. I added the lace, a piece that my friend brought me from Belgium years ago.

I was so surprised to see that the lights work. One downstairs does not. It may just need a new bulb.

The study also on the second floor has an old pump organ in the far corner.  The house was really hard to photograph because it sits on a library table in a bedroom close to the wall, the photographs are not the greatest.

The upstairs foyer needs an easy chair to make it the perfect corner to spend the afternoon reading.  From this view, you can see the organ in the back with its little round stool.

I love the formal living room. I added the tea set to the coffee table and the crocheted rug.

 Can you imagine how excited I was to finally light the fireplace?

The entryway needs to be vacuumed. Wonder where the maid is?

I think the kitchen is my favorite room because of all of the great detail and little accessories.

The kitchen is so much fun. You can almost smell the roasted turkey.

The house has two lighting systems. Most of the house is wired using the copper tape that you saw on the roof of the general store. This system is neatly tucked away under the house behind the little hinged door and plugs into a transformer. I had to buy a new transformer, as seen in the next photo. Then two lights are plugged into the strip that I purchased at Hobby Lobby, a lamp and the fireplace. There were stray wires with plug ins attached, so after doing some reading on the Internet I realized that I needed a power strip which I hooked up to the existing transformer. And WaLa, the fire place lit.

So this is the Franklin, a grand old Victorian house. I will do little with it. I will probably add a family to give it character, but I see little reason to remodel of update. The original builder, I was told, took the house to local fairs where it won prizes. I just like looking at it, re arranging furniture and pondering How did she do that?

She built much of the furniture from kits and even from scratch. She made several pieces of wicker furniture that sit out front of the General Store. There are three unfinished kits in the boxes of stuff that came with the house. I will try my hand once the snow flies perhaps to weave the pieces that she did not get to.

So this is the Franklin, circa 1979. The kit built by Artply. 

I am finishing the Lafayette. I don't know just how much I will do with it. I could add so many little touches, but I am anxious to move on to the Alpine Farm House. Next time I will have the Lafayette ready for its final viewing. 

Thanks for stopping by. Sent me your comments. I'd love read what your thoughts on the Franklin.


  1. I don't think that was too much to pay for all this. Look at all that is there, I'm sure that would add up to more than you paid for it all. I can totally understand your excitement, I REALLY need to look into doing a doll house for myself.

  2. That is a cute dollhouse! It's even better when you fixed it up, so that it can be lit from the inside. It's great that you didn't find any problems such as busted connections. And aside from the fixes with the lighting, I agree that its current setup is good enough. What are you planning up next? Keep us posted!

    Kellie Taylor @ Aim Dynamics

  3. Do you know where I can get this kit from?

  4. Do you know where I can get this kit from?

  5. my husband bought me The Frankin kit in 1981. I put it together, painted it, added siding to it and also made some furniture myself. After my husband passed away i lost interest in the dollhouse and in a lot of other things. the dollhouse was put to rest in my back bedroom where it fell into disrepair. one of my cats took up residence in it and knocked it to the floor. The porch was damaged and also the roof. My new years resolution is to make repairs to my dollhouse and get back to loving it again. You said this model is not in production anymore, but do you know where I can find parts so I can make repairs to the porch and roof?

  6. Thank you for posting the pics of the decorated Franklin 124. I bought the kit in the early 90's when it was labeled brand name Whitney, mfr Radmark International Inc.; Classic Victorian Farmhouse. I lost interest in it back then, but now want to redecorate it and finish installing the porch. Thanks for all the decorating ideas! Sue

  7. I am searching for the instructions for this dollshouse as mine are missing, do you still have a copy of them please