ABINGDON, Va. — Sally Habermeyer did not deal with dollhouses when her sons were growing up.
Her boys had little, if any, interest in playing with dolls — much less did they need a dollhouse.
But then along came Habermeyer’s granddaughter. And, with her, Habermeyer had an interest in building a model of her Tudor-style home in Asheville, North Carolina.
“My granddaughter was about 2,” said Habermeyer. “And I thought it would be fun to make a dollhouse for her.”
That was a dozen years ago.
One dollhouse led to another. And, before long, Habermeyer, now in her 70s, had built 20 dollhouses, stuffing them all over her Asheville home.
They measure as much as 4-feet wide.
This month, Habermeyer is sharing nine of her tiny houses through a “Miniatures at the Martha” display in the East Parlor of the Martha Washington Inn on Abingdon’s Main Street.
“I was so taken with her collection,” said the hotel’s owner, Ian Lloyd-Jones, 72. “I thought, ‘Why don’t we show the world this wonderful work of art?’”
This is more than a show.
Lloyd-Jones has also placed a box in the parlor to collect donations for the Washington County, Virginia chapter of Habitat for Humanity. That organization, in turn, is staging a cocktail party for key donors on June 14, Lloyd-Jones said.
“We thought the exhibit itself would be a nice draw and another reason to get off Main Street — or get off the interstate — and see Abingdon,” Lloyd-Jones said. “People can come in and see the exhibit for free.”
By hand, Habermeyer constructs each dollhouse. All include an intricate level of detail, such as needlepointed carpets and wall hangings.
Some rooms are formal; one has a “man cave” with a pool table and a gun rack.
Habermeyer’s Tudor dollhouse is on display here — the model of where she lives half the year in Asheville, whenever she and her 79-year-husband, Bill, are not at their home in Tampa, Florida.
“She is the one who builds all of these,” Bill Habermeyer said as she showed off the dollhouses. “I’m just an electrical consultant.”
Sally Habermeyer uses kits to make the dollhouses but still needs help from her husbanda with the tape-wired lights, the couple said.
With a wry smile, Sally Habermeyer said, “He likes to tell me when I’ve shorted something.”
“The lights are the hardest part,” she said. “I joke that, at night, the bed fairies come, and they cut all the lights off, and you have to fix them the next day.”