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Bremen Public Library

304 N. Jackson St, Bremen, IN 46506  (574) 546-2849

Snyder Family Dollhouse

Working on Dollhouse was Couple's Favorite Hobby

Henry and Alberta Snyder were long time residents of Bremen. They are now both deceased. Henry passing in April 1989 and Alberta in December 1999. It was their desire to have their dollhouse on display for the public to enjoy. Their family is now honoring this wish and hope it brings joy to all who view this work of love. The dollhouse is presented to the library for an indefinite time by their children, James and Judi Snyder of Taylor, Texas, Robert and June Hamman of Warsaw and David and Kathy Snyder of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

"We are so lucky to have this beautiful work of love and art at the library and hope that many people come and see for themselves this amazing dollhouse", Director Marsha Patterson said.

snyder dollhouseThe following article concerning the Snyder dollhouse was published in the Press Journal of Vero Beach, Florida on February 4, 1985:

The mailbox at the end of the tiny sidewalk proclaims the two-story white frame as "Bert and Hank's." Inside, the house's nine rooms and hallway are impeccably decorated-the dining room floor varnished to a high gloss, and the downstairs parlor neat and ready for company.

Always willing to show their house to visitors, "Bert" and "Hank", Alberta and Henry Snyder, are proud of their old-fashioned house-a dollhouse-in, which almost everything is handmade right down from the 4,000 cedar shingles on the roof to the 360-piece parquet floor in the kitchen.

The Snyders, who retired to Vero Beach from Bremen, Ind., in 1980, began making furniture for the dollhouse six or seven years ago, before the construction of the house even began. Snyder built the dollhouse, which is about 4 feet long, 34 inches tall and 2 feet wide, in 1980 after the couple moved to Florida.

"The style is taken from an actual house in Virginia," Snyder said. "I looked at a picture and made my own design. I'm not one for kits."

Before the actual construction of the house, he built each of the tiny windows, doors and the railing that lines the house-length porches on both the top and bottom stories. Made of plastic, each of the windows slides open to ventilate the house. Because it is built and decorated in the style of the late 1800's, it would not have air conditioning. Doors leading to both the porches have stained glass windows, and two other stained glass windows each containing 60 pieces-grace the upstairs bathroom.

"People laughed at me and said, "What are you going to do with it?" Snyder said. "And I said, "I don't know, but I think I'll hang it on the wall!"And hang it he did-right on the wall of the family room on a turntable that is fastened to the inside of a closet. It rests so that the second floor is just about eye level, but the house is so full of tiny items that it is impossible to take in all of the details at one look.

"We've had people say they could stand here for an hour and still not see everything in it," Mrs. Snyder said. "We have people over who have seen it any number of times and they still see something they hadn't seen before each time they come."

Mrs. Snyder is quick to point out details that a brief overview of the entire house might miss-the tiny copper pots, made by Snyder, that hang over the dining room's stone fireplace, the oil paintings done by a granddaughter that hang above two other fireplaces, and the intricacies of the canopy beds.

Snyder built the actual house with its metal gutter that runs along the rooftop as a reminder of the years he spent as a sheet metal contractor. But while Snyder takes care of the exterior of the house, Mrs. Snyder reigns supreme as interior decorator. Though she has said she hasn't "done much on it" in the past year, she spends much of her spare time decorating and redecorating with odds and ends.

Various lights are made of discarded clip-on earrings, the base of a shattered cocktail glass, and bits of costume jewelry and beads. A three-way vanity mirror in one of the bedrooms used to be three links of a bracelet-Snyder took the stones out of their settings and replaced them with tiny pieces of mirror. And planters, located in various spots about the tiny house, range from a champagne bottle cap to toothpaste caps.

"We don't throw anything away," Snyder said, and Mrs. Snyder agreed: "We save stuff, and people who come to visit us bring stuff to us, too."

A brass bathtub-meant to be a soap dish-was given to the Snyders by a friend who knew of the couple's passion for decorating the house, and suspended from the roof on the second-floor porch is a diminutive bird house made by one of Mrs. Snyder's uncles.

Though there are a few items in the house, such as a set of goblets and dishes that have been purchased through a company specializing in miniature home decorating all of the furniture has been handmade by the Snyders.

The bedposts on the canopy beds look as though they have been turned on a lathe, but Snyder has spent hours of his time shaping the spindles by hand with a file.

A grandfather clock that stands on the second-floor landing is handmade, too, and it's face-frozen in time at 8:20-was cut from a magazine advertisement. Even the regulation-size piano that stands against the wall in the downstairs parlor, though it will not play, was handmade.

With all of it furnishings and its intricate wiring so that the lights do indeed shine, the house is an elaborate creation. But for Snyder, who has made furniture for his own home as well as the dollhouse, working on this replica of a home seems natural.

"I've always worked with wood," he said. "In fact, right after we got married (almost 45 years ago), we made a dollhouse-not as elaborate as this one-for a niece."

Other dollhouses have been made for three of the Snyder's six granddaughters, but they, like that first dollhouse made 45 years ago, are not as ornately furnished-at least they haven't been up to now. That may soon change.

"They're 14 years old," Mrs. Snyder said of her granddaughters, "and now they're becoming interested in having real furniture for their dollhouses."