Today, instead of Throw Back Thursday (#TBT), let’s have Throw Out Thursday.
I’ve written before about the Girl Scout Little House in Washington, DC. Located at 1750 New York Avenue NW, about two blocks from the White House, it was a model home where Girl Scouts learned the basics of housekeeping, hospitality, and child care.
Lou Henry Hoover and a group of well-dressed Girl Scouts wait to welcome a distinguished guest to the Little House (Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress)
Built for the second Better Homes Demonstration Week in June 1923, the Better Homes in America and General Federation of Women’s Clubs donated it to the Girl Scouts, and National Girl Scout President Lou Henry Hoover quietly paid $12,000 to move it from the National Mall to its new location.
Lou Henry Hoover (third from right) supervises a kitchen demonstration at the Little House (Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress)
To encourage other councils to create similar opportunities for their troops, in 1930 Mrs. Hoover, now first lady, commissioned a highly detailed doll-sized version of the Little House. Everything matched the actual house, down to the wallpaper patterns. The dolls inside even wore tiny Girl Scout uniforms. She arranged for the doll house to be displayed at the 1930 national convention in Indianapolis. Afterward, the doll house toured the country, before taking up residence at the original house in Washington.
Photo from Dorothy Angel Tenney.
Side view of doll house (Hoover Presidential Library Facebook page)
Eleanor Roosevelt (second from right) enjoys a “15 cent lunch” in the Little House dining room, 1933 (Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress)
Doll house dining room, with original hutch, tables, chairs, and wallpaper (Dorothy Angel Tenney)
The Little House was used continuously for trainings and demonstrations of the domestic arts from June 1923 to April 1945. The Girl Scouts soon outgrew the building and vacated it in May 1955. The house itself was torn down in the early 1970s.
The doll house was taken to Rockwood, the Girl Scout national camp outside Washington, DC. But the manager there saw no need for a doll house at a camp, so it wound up on the trash pile.
I knew that a Rockwood housekeeper, Maude Hill, retrieved the doll house and gave it to a family that she worked for part time. The family had a little girl who was just the right age for the toy. She played with it and eventually donated it to the Hoover Presidential Library in 2012, the year of the Girl Scout centennial.
Imagine my surprise a few months ago, when that “little girl” contacted me, offering photos of the doll house!
Dorothy Angel as a child (Dorothy Angel Tenney)
Dorothy Angel Tenney grew up about a half mile from Rockwood. According to Dorothy,
On May 26, 1950, Mrs. Hill told Mrs. Angel that a wonderful doll house had been just tossed out for junk and that Mrs. Angel’s young daughter would love it. Mrs. Angel said she did not want some ratty little doll house that no one else wanted. Mrs. Hill persisted during the next several days and eventually prevailed upon Mrs. Angel to look at it. Mrs. Angel immediately had a laborer load the doll house in her car trunk and took it home.
For Dorothy, it was a wonderful toy. She played with it carefully and didn’t break a single piece of furniture. However, many of the original pieces, including the dolls, had been lost by the time Mrs. Hill discovered it.
Fortunately for Girl Scout history buffs, Dorothy’s father wasn’t just an ordinary father. He was an archivist! In fact, Herbert Angel, was Deputy Archivist of the United States from 1968 to his retirement in 1972. He researched the provenance of the doll house, and the family kept the treasure long after Dorothy outgrew dolls.
Dorothy shared these photos of the doll house. Isn’t it a delight?
Living room, bed room, and nursery (Dorothy Angel Tenney)
Bedrooms, dining room and kitchen (Dorothy Angel Tenney)
© 2015 Ann Robertson