MILWAUKEE — Weekend getaways, sports memorabilia, gift certificates, gourmet meals … the upcoming fundraiser at Our Lady of Good Hope Parish seemingly offers everything but the kitchen sink.

Dollhouse08Norb Whittle, a member of Our Lady of Good Hope Church, Milwaukee, peers into the living room of an elaborate dollhouse he helped set up on Monday, Sept. 26. The dollhouse was donated to the church and will be auctioned during the parish’s 19th annual auction on Saturday, Nov 12.Hold on a minute. Thanks to a special donation, the auction will have a kitchen sink.

An elaborate, 2.5-foot-tall dollhouse will be the centerpiece of the live auction portion of the event, Saturday, Nov. 12. The Victorian-style house is outfitted with every imaginable piece of furniture including, yes, a kitchen sink.

Auction organizers are so delighted with the donation that they’ve chosen “Little House on the Prairie” as the theme for their 19th annual fundraiser. Attendees are being encouraged to dress in pioneer dress.

Members of the auction committee met recently to look over the nine-room dollhouse, which has wallpapered walls, carpeted floors and even working chandeliers and light fixtures.

There are well over 100 pieces of furniture and accessories including such items as a Bible, a tea kettle, a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste.

“A lot of it is a surprise,” Barbara “Babs” Mortl said as she unwrapped dishes and silverware, tiny food items, and a dog bowl. “The washing machine is metal, the sinks are porcelain and the wood pieces are solid wood. The living room furniture is upholstered.

“I had a dollhouse, but everything was plastic from the dime store.”

The donor, who has asked to remain anonymous, collected the dolls, miniature furniture and accessories over a 10-year period at a cost of about $4,000.

“We’re hoping to get in excess of $1,000 for it,” said Norb Whittle, co-chair of the live auction portion of the event. “In our wildest dreams we wouldn’t expect to get $4,000.”

The donor, a longtime parishioner at Our Lady of Good Hope, bought the dollhouse for the amusement of two young family members who visited every weekend.

“They’d come in the house, kick off their shoes and go downstairs (to the basement) to play with the dollhouse,” the donor recalled.

p.8Dollhouse11-03-11-16A tiny Bible with the Lord’s Prayer printed on pages about the size of a fingertip is one of the many remarkable detailed items in an elaborate dollhouse donated anonymously to Our Lady of Good Hope Church in Milwaukee. More photos of the dollhouse can be viewed at (Catholic Herald photos by Ernie Mastroianni)The donor and children would go regularly to Rose’s Doll House Shop, then located on Lincoln Ave., in Milwaukee. (The store since has moved to Brookfield.) The youngsters had to learn how to work within the budget they were given.

“They picked out twin beds and twin dolls, and the grandma and grandpa dolls,” said the donor. “I’d tell them each what amount they could spend, and they’d have to decide what to buy.”

The fundraiser will be held at the church. It begins with a silent auction of nearly 400 donated items. Beverages and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served. Attendees then will proceed to the dining room for desserts, coffee, drawings for five cash prizes totaling $1,900, and the live auction of a dozen items valued at $100 or more.

Among the live auction items is a gourmet meal prepared by the parish’s pastor, Fr. Charles Zabler. He’s maintaining a tradition started by Bishop Donald J. Hying when he was pastor at Our Lady of Good Hope several years ago.

Typically, about 200 people attend the auction, according to Whittle, and net proceeds total about $25,000. The event is open to the public.

The dollhouse will be on display at the church following weekend Masses Nov. 5-6. Proxy bids will be accepted, Whittle said, for anyone who is interested but cannot attend.

The donor has many memories of young relatives playing with the dollhouse.

If you want to go:
The 19th Annual Auction will be held at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12 at Our Lady of Good Hope, 7152 N. 41st St., Milwaukee, in the church’s lower level (accessible by elevator). Tickets can be purchased at the door. To place a proxy bid on the dollhouse, call the parish office at (414) 352-1148.

“I’d just sit back and listen,” said the donor. “They were very creative, and sometimes they would reflect what they’d learned at home.

“One day, one was playing the part of the father and the other was the mother. The father came home from work and the mother said, ‘You look tired, why don’t you sit down and read, and I’ll call you when supper is ready?’

“Another time, they picked up the doll they called the aunt. They had a pizza and the silverware on the table. One of them said, as the aunt, ‘Now remember, we have to pray first.’”

The children who played with the dollhouse outgrew it about 10 years ago, and the owner has decided to part with it.

“I really want someone else who has children to have the joy of watching them play with it,” the donor said.