When Bekki Majerus was nine, she loved tagging along with her dad whenever he went to the hardware store.
“I remember all these shelves, and on the top shelf, there were several dollhouse models on display. Every time we’d go to that store, I’d stand and stare at this one in particular,” Majerus said.
On her tenth birthday in 1984, her parents surprised her with the kit she’d been eying for more than a year.
“My dad worked on it when he had time to build it,” she said, which was mostly on weekends or during time off from work. Construction consisted of gluing the exterior trim and tiny staircases together, then painting and decorating.
Another year passed by and Majerus’ mother died suddenly of an aneurysm. Overcome by grief and the stress of suddenly parenting without his wife, her dad shelved the dollhouse project indefinitely.
Even though it wasn’t finished and didn’t have much furniture, Majerus remembers playing with the dollhouse for hours on end.
“I played with it a lot before I outgrew it. And I always envisioned finishing it and giving it to my own daughter someday,” she said. “But when I married my husband my only step-daughter already had a dollhouse.”
In the decades that followed, Majerus held on to the dollhouse through high school, then college, marriage and many moves.
Until recently. She handed it over to her crafty Fargo neighbors Nancy and Ray Blotzke to be refurbished and fully furnished—for a cause.
On Friday, the dollhouse will go to a new child after it’s auctioned off at Dakota Medical Foundation Lend A Hand Up’s twelfth annual Stick It to Cancer fundraiser at Scheels Arena.
Stick it to Cancer was started by the Fargo High School hockey community in 2010 as a fundraiser to help families through a medical crisis. 100% of funds raised will be distributed through Lend A Hand Up to local families in medical crisis.
“It was time to let it go, and when my neighbor Nancy mentioned the auction, I could not imagine a better use for my childhood toy that had been packed away waiting for a new purpose,” Majerus said.
Today, the dollhouse is a work of art—one many are hoping will raise lots of money for a great cause.
Like Majerus, Nancy Blotzke always loved dollhouses.
“I always wanted a dollhouse,” Blotzke said.
Also like Majerus, she had girls in her family, but they either already had a dollhouse or had outgrown the desire for one. So instead of revitalizing the toy for a family member, she and husband Ray, an avid woodworker, decided to rebuild it in time for the fundraiser.
“We just love the Stick it to Cancer event and we donate stuff to it every year,” Nancy Blotzke said. “My husband Ray is really good at woodworking and worked hard painting it and making it really sparkle. I put my interior skills to use and decorated it.”
Ray Blotzke repaired loose and damaged shingles, finished the raw interior flooring, then gave it a fresh paint job before handing the interior decorating details off to his wife, who hand-sewed curtains and other items. The rest, they cobbled together while thrift store shopping.
“We tiled the second floor, wallpapered every room, and I shopped for things like floor mats and a placemat for the baby’s room at thrift stores,” Nancy Blotzke said. “Things just fit into place so perfectly.”
Like furnishing life-size homes, though, expenses for the dollhouse quickly proved cost-prohibitive.
A small world after all
Then one day while shopping at Hobby Lobby during after-Christmas sales, Nancy Blotzke struck up a conversation with another woman in line.
“She asked if we needed more furniture and I said yes. We can’t fill every room because it’s so expensive and we’d already invested so much in it,” Blotzke said. “Turns out this gal had furniture left over from her now-grown daughter’s dollhouse.”
The next day, the woman called and told Blotzke she’d be donating the items for free to the project because it was going to charity.
As the two were chatting and setting up a meeting place to hand off the items, the woman donating the items asked if they’d add her daughter’s name to the auction description.
“When she said the name Kim Parks, my jaw just dropped,” Blotzke said. “I’d worked with Kim in the ER at MeritCare (now Sanford Health) for 20 years. So, I got all this beautiful doll furniture, like little doilies for the tables her grandmother had crocheted, little carpets for in front of the fireplace. It’s just beautiful.”
Not only that, but the furniture matches the 1980s, the same era Bekki Majerus’ dollhouse was built. “I could not have imagined it turning out any better,” Majerus said. “It looks like the doll houses I’d see on display at museums.”
About the author
Lonna Whiting is a freelance writer and owner of lonna.co, a content marketing and communications agency located in Fargo, North Dakota. She is a frequent contributor to The Arts Partnership’s content library and also provides strategic communications consultation to the organization.