Auction for Owens dollhouse at Hospice benefit Saturday

Published 4:12 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2009

You might think that two years is not an unreasonable amount of time to spend building a nine-room Colonial home with flagstaff patio and cedar shake shingles, but if that house was 55 by 21, you might think again.

Doll house is too small a word to describe this work of art, built by the late Polk County native Lisa Owens, and now up for bid in a silent auction to benefit Hospice of the Carolina Foothills.

On any given day, a visit to The Hospice Thrift Barn in Landrum will find an appreciative audience marveling over the miniature fixtures in the cream-colored house on prominent display. Visitors are amazed to learn that none of the thousands of pieces are glued down. They have all been meticulously placed by Owens and most recently by Hospice volunteer Charles Milam, who spent two days putting the donated house together.

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Peaking through the lace curtains at the exacting replicas of kerosene lamps, shaving cream and razors, toilet paper, hanging plants, baby bottles, clocks, a rubber duck in the tub, dishes in sink, a ship model in parlor and fireplace tools, it is easy to feel youve fallen down Alices rabbit hole in Wonderland.

Owens wanted to make every room of the house authentically correct, according to family members, and spent 24 months shopping in hobby shops for items that personally reflected her early Polk County years, cutting and gluing shingles, reducing family photos, magazines and newspapers. There is even a postage stamp-size copy of The Tryon Daily Bulletin.

Its creator, Owens, led a life shadowed by serious illness, but did not let that dampen her creative spirit and determination. When she passed away in 1997, five years after she declared the dollhouse finished, Owens parents Norris and Lorraine Owens, proudly kept it as a remembrance of a daughter whose love for her family and artistry went hand-in-hand.

And when Lorraine, a Hospice patient, passed away recently, her husband fulfilled her wish to donate the house to Hospice out of appreciation for the kind and loving care she and her family had received from Hospice during her illness and death.

The next chapter of the story began when Hospice patient, Milam, volunteered to put the house back together using all the original artifacts and photos of the house. Milam, a woodworker in his own right, spent two entire days putting all the pieces back in the house exactly as they were.

Owens decorated the house for every season, according to Hospice Thrift Barn Manager, Lindsay Moore, using appropriate Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations. The only thing missing from the perfect Christmas tableau, he says, are two tiny Christmas wreaths on the front door, which he vows to find and place there.

With bids starting at $1,000, Lindsey reports that there are a half dozen entries already. The drawing will be held on December 19 and your presence is not required to win. You may visit the Hospice Thrift Barn on Highway 14 near I-26, or call 864-457-7348 for information. Hours of operation vary during December.