It All Starts Here

Sometimes our ideas flow from an existing kit to bash, a house style to scratch (aka custom) build, or from an interesting doll who needs a place to live. Our settings are always modern-day (ca. 2001 when we started this hobby). We try to create things that will make people smile and feel good.

We think that if we had to build the same house twice, we literally could not do it! Fortunately, we have very unique little people who have definite opinions and so far, no one has wanted a house “like so-and-so” has.

We work as a family unit: my wonderful husband, my beautiful sister, and I. We don't always agree as to the direction of the build, but I think that we end up with a better dollhouse because of all our grumblings -- and we do have a lot of fun!

The Purpose of this Blog

We needed a place for all we wanted to say about the background of the build and the nuts and bolts of the design and build process. Thus this blog.

All our dolls' homes have families living in them and a story is built around their personalities and lifestyles. This story is an integral part of our building process. We would like to share these stories -- actually, the little people insist upon it!

Many of our houses are located in Fredericksburg, Virginia because that is my sister's favorite place.

Also, we have started a Rouges' Gallery with photos of our little people and information about the dolls.

If you would like to start with the dollhouse that "started it all", it is the Original Rowbottom Manse; if you would like to see the scratch-built Georgian that our first build gave us the confidence (or fool-hardiness) to do, it is Sunnybrook Farm.

Let the stories begin!

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Monday, December 28, 2009

The Original Rowbottom Manse- The Second Empire Victorian Home of Martha & George Wells, Fredericksburg, Virginia

Martha Nancy Randolph and George Laurence Wells Biographical Information...

The Wells Family:
George’s ancestors were latecomers to the United States. He laughs that he feels like a “newbie to say nothing of being a Damn Yankee” next to the Randolphs! The Wells family came from Britain in 1870 and settled happily in Boston!

George’s paternal grandfather Hugh was a newspaper editor when he decided to run for Congress. He won and went to Washington. After being there for a number of years, decided that he liked Southern living but he did not like politics! His wife, Louisa (also a proper Bostonian) agreed! Hugh gave up politics, went back to his “inky” roots and bought into a local newspaper. He then moved his family from a Boston townhouse into a rambling Tudor in Potomac, Maryland.

George’s father Arthur joined the newspaper after he received his Journalism degree from the University of Maryland. Once he felt secure in his job, he married his college sweetheart the former Helen Irene Mac Duff (Duffy) who was now also working for the paper. They bought a wonderful 1920's home in Silver Spring and are still living there. . Besides son George Laurence, they have another son Franklin Eric who is a surgeon and a Major in the Air Force, and a daughter Dorothea Therese who writes children’s books.

The Randolph Family:
Martha's parents are Stuart John Randolph and Elizabeth Martha Lee . Both families have been in Virginia "since the Ice Age", Stuart jokes. After Stuart graduated from Duke University with a degree in Civil Engineering, he accepted a position with the Commonwealth of Virginia. ("Time to come back home", he said.) The following summer, while working in Fredericksburg he met his future wife, Elizabeth. After Elizabeth graduated from college, they married and settled in a charming 1930's house in Fredericksburg . Stuart took a position with the city and Elizabeth became a research librarian. Besides their daughter Martha Nancy, they have a son Peter Charles .

Martha and George:

George graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Landscape Architecture. While in college, he became good friends with Derek Rowbottom . He then met his future wife Martha Randolph when Derek started dating her cousin Rebecca . (Martha’s father Stuart and Rebecca’s father Graham are brothers.) George immediately started taking a lot of good-natured ribbing about having Yankee roots!

George is a senior partner with Derek in the esteemed architectural and landscape design firm, Potomac Landscapes. Their pet projects are historic preservation and restoration, and urban renewal -- which they often do pro bono. George and Derek give classes on Historic Preservation at the University of Mary Washington and also give lectures to various civic groups.

Martha graduated from William and Mary with a degree in Economics. Through the years, she has worked her way up to become the business manager at a public TV and radio station. She often has her cousin Rebecca, a well-known wildlife photographer, develop Nature programs for television. Martha teaches classes about the business of running a TV station at the University of Mary Washington.

Martha and George bought a small home in downtown Fredericksburg when they married but they really liked the home that Derek and Rebecca had bought a few years earlier (another "needs work" but "loaded with charm"). It was a spacious 1891 Second Empire Victorian on Smith Farm Road just outside the Historic District. It had been the manor house of the Josiah Smith Farm. The farm was subdivided after he died but his widow kept the house on almost two acres of property for herself. The house remained in the family until the Rowbottoms bought it.

Even before the Rowbottoms finished renovating the Victorian, they started planning the home of their dreams. They sold the Victorian to Martha and George when their new home was completed (see Sunnybrook Farm), The Wells then turned the Victorian into the home of their dreams and are living there happily ever after.

Martha plays the violin and George has a wonderful baritone voice thus they both get "volunteered" for the many musicales that the Randolphs like to organize. Another area of participation: Fredericksburg is a very historic and wonderful city and George and Martha do all they can to preserve and protect it.

They have three children: Jane Elizabeth, Erica Helene, and James Richard ; and a shetland collie named Millie and a cat named Mini.


  1. I really enjoy reading these blogs giving the "personal" information of the "owners" of these houses and their families. You must really have a blast doing this stuff!

  2. Oh, Dear Iris! What a lovely post. I finally had time to sit and read through it. you thgouth every last detail out. I love that the houses have some histroy to them, it really addes to the character.
    Great job

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