It is always wonderful when a dollhouse comes with information on its history. The Marjorie Johnson Victorian Dollhouse located at the Yorktown Museum in Yorktown Heights, New York comes not only with a history but a resident ghost. Staff members
think the ghost might be the creator of the dollhouse Marjorie Johnson herself who has decided to watch over her beloved dollhouse for time eternal. A ghostly female spirit has reportedly appeared in black and white photos of the dollhouse and staff members note that items in the dollhouse like to rearrange themselves and lights go off and on by themselves. Supposedly Marjorie also makes her likes and dislikes known about changes to the dollhouse. Miniature pictures placed over the dollhouse fireplace would repeatedly fall down no matter how firmly they were attached to the dollhouse wall. When a local artist offered an original dollhouse scale painting as a replacement and it was installed over the fireplace, Marjorie must have approved as it has remained in place.
The dollhouse itself stands seven high and is built to an unusual 2:12 scale. Marjorie Johnson, who worked as tour guide at the Philipsburg Manor in Tarrytown, New York, collected dolls and miniature furniture most of her adult life. Much of the miniature furniture that she collected was too big for a traditional dollhouse so she decided to make her own custom dollhouse. The base of the house was created by a carpenter into three long wooden boxes. The rest of the dollhouse was built and finished by Marjorie and her husband. Using her creativity, Marjorie made the dollhouse doors from
wooden cigar boxes to which she added wooden beading for trim. The windows are pressed glass from a manufacturing plant that eventually became the Fostoria Glass Company. A porch and a music room were added along with interior walls and doors. Marjorie hand stenciled the wallpaper; created miniature hand dipped candles, constructed jeweled chandeliers, wove the carpeting, and sewed all the curtains, draperies and bedding. The roof took 8,000 individual pieces of siding and shingles which came from a discarded mahogany pew that originally was part of the Old Dutch Church in Tarrytown, New York. Even the field stone that surrounds the house was created by Marjorie using paper mache that she baked in her oven. After all this work, it is no wonder that Marjorie keeps a close eye on her dollhouse.
In addition to the Marjorie Johnson Dollhouse, the Yorktown Museum is home to 34 individual dollhouses and a collection of shadow boxes or displays known as “pigeon holes” that were designed by local artist Carol and Neal Pruzan. All of the miniatures are housed in what is known as the Marjorie Johnson Room. The Museum always has wonderful displays but a magical time to see the dollhouses in the Marjorie Johnson Room is when the room is decorated for the holidays such as Halloween and the winter holidays.
Other displays of note in the Yorktown Museum include the Woodlands Room which houses an exhibit on the county’s first inhabitants the Mohegan Indians, the Arthur C. Lee Room which focuses on the early farming through the seasons, the Bob McKeand Room which is all about railroads and features a HO scale model railroad and a recreation of the Yorktown Railroad Depot. You also don’t want to miss the Sylia Thorne Rooms depicting early Yorktown in the years 1750 through 1850. There is also a research room for individuals researching their family history. The Yorktown Museum is located on the top floor of the Yorktown Community & Cultural Center at 1974 Commerce Street in Yorktown Heights, New York.