Friday, January 20, 2012

Princess Dollhouse

This doll house is so special to me! A family member from both sides of my family have given me such a wonderful keepsake.
History: my cousin, Doug Costanzo, made it for his daughters back in 1975. It's huge. It's made of plywood and has wheels under it so you can move it around. The roof opens up to reveal an attic and both side walls open on big piano hinges so you can access the rooms.
His daughters and nieces had a lot of fun playing with it over the years. He never finished the exterior, because the kids were happy with it the way it was. Then his grandchildren played with it until they outgrew it.
 Fast forward to 2009. He gave it to me for my granddaughter who had just turned 3. I have a large dining room and can accomodate a doll house of this gargantuan size! He and his wife, Joan, also gave me the plastic furniture and people for my little one to play with. Waiting for the day she's big enough to play with them without breaking them are the wooden furniture pieces his kids had acquired over the years. My granddaughter, who will be referred to as "the princess" from here on, absolutely loves this doll house!
My cousin, Nancy, came to visit and seeing this beautiful doll house in it's unfinished condition said "I think my dad would be happy to finish it for you". Well, her dad, my uncle, is 94 years old! Even though he is a guitar maker and is in amazing shape, I didn't want to ask him. This is a job for superman!
Well, Uncle Lou called me after Thanksgiving and offered to do it. I told him I didn't care if it took a year. My husband and I delivered it and three weeks later he called to say it was finished!
I was blown away. He made every bit of the siding, shingles, railings, door and window frames, porch decking, gingerbread, lattice and shutters! Most people would order the supplies from a catalog, he created them from scrap pine. The windows and door openings inside are all trimmed out. He carefully painted each piece before installing. He made miniature nails from straight pins that belonged to his MOTHER! My uncle will be 95 in March. He is truly a one-of-a-kind. Go on You Tube and search "Lou Mancuso Guitar Maker". My son, Tom, did a short documentary about him.
I will treasure this doll house forever and I know the princess will, too.
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  1. J, what a great post. Such an amazing keepsake!

  2. This is such a nice doll house, what a wonderful story that goes with it.

  3. Hello, I just met your Uncle Lou. As it happens I have an electric bass that I wanted to update, and I was looking for someone to perform a one-time router job, and two weeks of searching local luthiers and woodworkers resulted yesterday in meeting him and leaving the instrument for him to work on after a very nice conversation. I am feeling the small world because I am also familiar with Woodstock School of Arts as I sometimes model there.
    We spent a good part of an hour discussing various aspects of the craft and trade, and I know he can do everything you said he did, all from scratch with his smart tools! He was delightful, and I am so glad, and feel honored, to have met him.

    Maki Kurokawa
    Roxbury, NY