Family Passes Down Antique Dollhouse for 138 Years

Dollhouse interrior

At one of our GaGa Sisterhood meetings, Martha Cullimore shared her family’s fascinating tradition of passing down an antique dollhouse to the first-born daughter on her fifth birthday. The presentation of the dollhouse to each owner’s firstborn daughter on her fifth birthday has been preserved as a family tradition for 138 years.

The dollhouse was originally designed and built by the family’s carpenter for Martha’s great-grandmother, Helen Carlton as a fifth birthday present on March 4, 1875. She was born in 1870 and lived in Brooklyn, NY. She then passed it on to her daughter, Helen Campbell,  born in 1892, on her fifth birthday in Brooklyn in August, 1897. She then gave the dollhouse to her daughter, Doris DeLong, born in 1915, on her birthday in Plainfield, New Jersey, on October 10, 1920.

Doris gave the dollhouse to her daughter, Martha Kennedy, (our GaGa Sister!) on her fifth birthday on October 29, 1947. Martha then gave it to her daughter, Paige Kling, on her fifth birthday on March 10, 1974 in Redwood Shores, California. She, in turn, gave the dollhouse to her daughter, Morgan Brown on her fifth birthday on March 8, 2003 in Denver, Colorado. She will bequeath the dollhouse next to her daughter who will be the seventh owner.dollhouse exterior

The physical design resembled homes as they appeared in the late 19th century. The special woods, verandas, and room sizes were typical of those found in the larger homes on the east coast during that era.

Not only have there been six happy little five-year olds who’ve received the dollhouse as their birthday gift, but, you can see, that the dollhouse has moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey, to California, and to Denver!  Happy little dollhouse!!

The dollhouse has changed colors many times with each owner! Decor has also changed with each little girl owner, but much of the original furniture is still intact. The floors are solid hardwood, as are the stairs, and the windows are made of real glass. The roof is hand carved. In fact, the entire dollhouse was built by hand by the family carpenter.

When Martha’s 14-year old granddaughter and her friend were preparing the dollhouse for the pictures, they spent over an hour playing with it!  Kids never really get too old for a dollhouse!


  1. Diane Levinson says

    What a lovely story!
    About the only item i can verify as almost that old is the ring that my great grandfather gave my great grandmother which is inscribed L to M Mar. 28, (18)’80. it’s a lovely miner cut diamond in a very contemporary looking setting. I love it and wear it everyday.
    It looks like the dollhouse, extremely well made, has had loving care over the ages.