Behold: the dollhouse grave.
Have you ever seen such precious yet macabre little things?
They are rare indeed, but when you stumble upon one, be it in person in a cemetery or online, they are endlessly intriguing. Especially for morbid, history-loving, old house fanatics – like us.
Almost without thought, you can gaze upon them and know that a young female child is buried beneath or beside them.
Below is the grave marker of Lova Cline, a six-year-old girl who died in 1908. Her dollhouse is located in the Arlington East Hill Cemetery in Arlington, Indiana.
Most of these bittersweet tributes date to the Victorian era (1850-1910’s) when veneration with all things house and all things death seemed to be at its height.
The concept was to give the deceased little girl a domestic space of her own, since her premature death prevented her from attaining what she would have achieved as a adult house wife.
The dollhouse grave markers often held the dual function of holding the deceased’s possessions.
Below is the grave of Vivian Mae Allison (1894-1899) located in the Connersville City Cemetery in Connersville, Indiana.
The large windows allow an easy view inside:
The interior has been maintained like a real dollhouse complete with miniature furniture and tea set.
There are even a few historic photos of such graves, like this one in Agee Cemetery in Hasty, Arkansas for two of the Agee children:
Below is a dollhouse grave that veered away from the Victorian-style architecture. Four-year-old Nadine Earles (1929-1933) was buried beneath this tidy brick bungalow in Oakwood Cemetery in Lanett, Alabama.
Apparently Nadine asked for a dollhouse for Christmas but she died of diphtheria just before the holiday. So her parents honored her posthumously with a dollhouse and filled it with her toys and belongings.
The following year when Nadine would have turned 5, her family held a birthday party for her at the grave site. The photo of this event is still displayed inside the dollhouse:
From the 1934 photo above you can see that the columns have been changed out, window awnings added, and roof replaced.
How Nadine’s grave house appears today:
I found one more photo of the sturdy brick dollhouse which dates to around 1945:
Unfortunately, these stand-out grave markers often attract the attention of vandals, and most have been the victims of damage over the years.
Grave of Dorothy Marie Harvey (1926-1931) in Hope Hill Cemetery, Medina, Tennessee:
Then there’s this one:
Created by a stone mason in the late 1870’s to memorialize his infant daughter Mary Agnes Keating, this unique grave marker is located in New St. Joseph Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The cement dollhouse originally had a collection of miniature stone-carved furniture inside, but today that has all been lost to vandals and the ravages of time.
Despite the sad condition of some of these dollhouse graves, they are relatively long-lasting monuments to beloved little girls.
Their lives may have ended early, but their places are ensured in the eternal fairy tale of childhood.