PIQUA — The Piqua Public Library recently received the donation of a dollhouse more than 100 years old, becoming the oldest piece in the library’s small collection of dollhouses.
Ann Wellmeier Hilliard, of New York City, the daughter of the late Helen Rundle Frazier Wellmeier, donated Helen Wellmeier’s childhood dollhouse to the library’s collection, helping deliver the dollhouse to the library, Friday.
Hilliard explained that J. Clem Ely built the dollhouse at 611 N. Downing St.
“He built it in the basement,” Hilliard said, adding that Ely had to remove parts of the dollhouse, including the roof, in order to get it out of the basement.
Wellmeier was a lifelong Piqua resident and the granddaughter of George H. Rundle, who built the home located at 400 N. Downing St. Wellmeier died at 103 in 2012 and Hilliard said she used to play with the dollhouse for hours in one of the smaller rooms on the second floor of the home.
“She played with it,” Hilliard said. “I played with it.” Hilliard and her cousin, Delia Rundle Volette Wieham, played with it together for hours.
“It has been in our family over 100 years,” Hilliard said. “We all loved it.”
Because it is an antique and a family relic, Hilliard decided to donate it to the library as a way to preserve it.
“I didn’t want it to be lost,” Hilliard said.
Wellmeier attended Piqua City Schools and graduated in 1927 from Ogantz School of Rydel, Pennsylvania. In 1931, she was awarded a Baccalaureate degree in English literature from Smith College in Northhampton, Mass.
Wellmeier was a life-long member of Westminster Presbyterian Church. She served on the Board of Trustees of the Flesh Public Library (now the Piqua Public Library) for 50 years.
In 1985 while a trustee, she wrote “Sissy,” a fond memoir of life in Middle America in the early 20th century. It was printed and sold privately, with the proceeds going to the Library Development Fund. A copy of “Sissy” can be found at the library.
At the time of her death, she was the oldest member of the Piqua Country Club and the Fortnightly Club, where she had served as its president. She was a member of the Piqua-Lewis Boyer Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Additionally, she served on the Board of Directors of the Piqua Salvation Army, she was a Girl Scout troop leader and was deeply involved in establishing the former Piqua Girl Scout Camp.
Wellmeier was married to Dr. Hugh Wellmeier, who was a well-known pediatrician in town.
The dollhouse comes with miniature decorations, including pieces made in Williamsburg, Virginia.
“This is the third or fourth dollhouse we have,” Jim Oda, director of the Piqua Public Library, said. The second oldest dollhouse they have at the library was built in the 1930s.
Oda said that they have plans to create more space to display the dollhouses.
“These are not only for the kids, but also the collectors,” Oda said.
Wellmeier’s dollhouse is in the children’s section of the library.
“We’re very blessed that Mrs. Hilliard thought of us, and this will be a big addition for children and adults in the Piqua area,” Oda said.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336
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