KATE AITKEN'S DOLL HOUSE
Kate Aitken’s dollhouse at the Chippewa Valley Museum is eight feet long, four feet high, has 21 rooms and some 400 to 500 furnishings.
This dollhouse is a miniature fantasyland — the more one looks, the more there is to see. It is also an investment of time, patience and skill on the part of the late Dr. Kate Stewart Aitken of Eau Claire, a retired physician.
Nancy Spak created the original design and construction of the house for Kate. A need for brighter lighting induced Kate to engage Gary Sinclair to reconstruct the entire house. He added eight rooms and installed a 12-volt electrical system consisting of 86 lights. Sinclair used miniature screw-base and straight wire "grain of wheat" bulbs in the lighting system. Jonathan King later added outlets in the main rooms to provide greater flexibility.
Aitken’s dollhouse is furnished with items she collected, made, or received as gifts from friends. She stitched the intricate petit-point rugs, made curtains out of handkerchiefs for the master bedroom and grandparents’ room, and used salt cellars for light fixtures. Aitken said one needn’t spend a fortune furnishing a dollhouse when imagination and ingenuity are free.
Aitken donated the house to the Chippewa Valley Museum in 1986 as a memorial to her sister Jean Stewart Langenbeck.