I am continuing the study of dolls houses. The last time
we visited this subject we looked at many doll-houses This
doll-house that we look at today
is an American doll house called the Fairy Castle. It is located in
the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois.
Fairy Castle was originally owed by Colleen Moore, a famous film
actress of the 1920's. She was always fascinated by doll-houses
having owned several elaborate ones as a child. Her father, Charles
Morrison suggested to her that she pursue her passion for miniatures
by creating the doll-house of her dreams. We cannot look at Fairy
Castle without learning about Colleen Moore, who is equally fascinating. We
will look at the doll-house of her dreams, Fairy Castle.
Later I will include an article on Colleen Moore. I have found her
to be fascinating and I am sure you will also.
Fairy Castle. Beginning in 1928, Colleen Moore enlisted the help of
many talented professionals to produce a Fairy Castle of fantastic
proportions. Horace Jackson was an architect and set designer who
worked for First National Studios. Jackson created the layout and
floor plan of the castle with this basic idea, the architecture must
have no sense of reality. We must invent a structure that is
everybody's conception of an enchanted castle. Moore also enlisted
the aid of art director and interior designer Harold Grieve. Grieve
had also designed the interiors of Moore's real life mansion. By 1935
over 700 individual's had lent their expertise to the creation and
building of the castle. The price for this eight foot two- inch by
seven feet seven inch palace containing
more than 2000 miniatures was nearly $5000,000. Moore one of the most
successful actresses of her time had the financial resources to finance her
dream castle. Also by being an actress she knew all the creators of design and
fantasy in hollywood to work on her dream doll house.
I am putting a link to the Chicago Museum of Science
and History as they have posted videos of Fairy Castle
below the written narrative tour of Fairy Castle in
Colleen Moore's own words.
This is a narrative in Colleen Moores' own words
as she takes us on a tour of her castle.
This is Colleen Moore and this is my fairy Castle. Come along with me
on a trip to fairy- land. In order to go on this trip, you have to
pretend that you are only five inches tall, so that you can walk
through the rooms. We will start in the kitchen. Over the door are
the 3 little pigs, and to the right, Jack and Jill tumbling down the
hill. The copper stove in the back of the room is the stove in which
the wicked witch locked Hansel and Gretel. The set of china on the
table has the Queen of England's crest on it. This is Royal Doulton
China, and two sets were made, one for the Queen of England's (Queen
Mary) doll house and the other for my fairy castle.
The next room is the dining room with King Arthur's round table in the
center. Beside the gold plates are wee knives and forks, also of
gold. The glasses are crystal and most of them over a hundred years
old. The tapestries on the wall are of needlepoint made in Vienna,
are the smallest stitches that have ever been stitched. You can
barely see them even under a magnifying glass.
Look above the kitchen and there is the bathroom of the princess. The
crystal walls are etched to tell the story of Udane. The tub is made
of silver, and real water flows from the faucets shaped like dolphin
Next on the tour is the Princess' bedroom. Above the dining room is
the bedroom of the fairy princess. The bed is the one that Sleeping
Beauty slept in. The bedspread is the gold spider web that covered
her for 100 years. The chairs are platinum and set with real diamonds
and emeralds. The floor is made of mother of pearl.
The attic. Now look up in the roof of the doll-house and there we see
the attic. This is filled with all the things that were left over
from the different rooms that belonged to the ancestors of the prince
and the princess.
Below is the Cinderella Drawing Room. The floor was made in China
years ago and is of rose quartz and jade. The chandelier hanging up
in the center of the room is gold, hung with real diamonds, emerald
and pearls. To the left you can see a little chess table just waiting
for the wee folk to come and play. The painting on the wall is of
Cinderella. The vases at each side of the door going into the great
hall are made of carved amber over 500 years ago. They came from the
collection of the Dowager Princess of China.
Upstairs is the bathroom of the prince. It is made of alabaster. The
mirror over the shell-like wash-basin is gold set with a sapphire and
surrounded by diamonds. The gold Japanese chest is over 500 years old.
Next to the bathroom is the bedroom of the Prince. This tells the
story of the Russian Little Czar, Saltur. The story is carved in the
furniture. The polar bear, of course was shot by the prince. It's
really and ermine skin with a mouse's teeth. The sword standing by
the wardrobe is Excalibur, King Arthur's sword.
Now let go around the corner and look at the Great Hall.
This is Colleen Moore and this is the Great Hall. Outside, above the
room, is the good fairy welcoming you to fairyland. Below her are
figures of Cinderella, the prince, and the wicked stepmother. The
floating staircase in the center of the room has no railings because
the fairy folk balance themselves with their wings. The ceiling of
this Great Hall is painted in scenes from the Grimms and Hans
Christian Anderson fairy tales. Over the door at the back of the room
is the Pied Piper of Hamlin and the children climbing up the wall to
get to him. The knights in armor at each side of the door are
silver and came from the collection of Rudolf Valentino, a famous
motion actor of times gone by. The tall glass window at the rear are
etched in fairy tales Jack and the Beanstalk, the Princess and the
Seven Swans and Prince Charming.
In the roped off sections are treasures of Fairyland. To the left and
on that low rosewood table are Cinderella's glass slippers. They are
hollow with high heels and have tiny red glass bows. These are the
tiniest little glass slippers that have ever been made. Next are the
silver skates belonging of course to Hans Brinker. And under that
glass bell the tiny chairs of the three bears sit on the head of pins,
the largest weighing only 150,000th of an ounce. There are many
things in the Great Hall that are very old. For example, you can see
to the left way back in the room on a green pedestal a statue, a bust
of a woman. This is Roman and about 2,500 years old. Next to this,
on that table are 4 art objects, 3 are statues pf the Goddess Isis,
and are over 4,000 years old. The 4th, a Syrian vase is over 1,000
To your right behind the ropes is a Battersea enameled table, and on
it sits a nest filled with golden eggs, and beside it a goose. These
of course, were stolen for the Giant by Jack. On the next table is a
small pistol. It actually shoots. At the foot of the stairs you see
two jars, one a 3,000 year- old alabaster jar from Egypt, used by
ancient Egyptian ladies to keep their mascara. The other is a glazed
porcelain jar from ancient Siam and is over 1,000 years old.
As you go around the corner, stop and look through the clear glass in
the center of the chapel window. You will see the altar, and on this
altar is a little tabernacle. On top of the tabernacle you will see a
beautiful golden sunburst. In the center is a glass container holding
a sliver of the true cross. This was given to me, by my friend Claire
Booth Luce, when she was ambassador to Italy and had her first
audience with the Pope. He gave this to her, and she gave it to me to
put in the chapel of the fairy castle. Now, lets move around the
corner for a better view of the chapel.
This is Colleen Moore again. We now stand in the front of the chapel.
Be very quiet and you can hear the music. It's coming from that
little organ in the vigil light. In the top is a very large diamond.
This was my mothers' engagement ring, and when she died, she left it
to me to put in the doll's house. So the vigil light is in memory of
The silver throne you see is a copy of the famous English throne in
Westminster Abbey. The statue on the pedestal to the right near the
front is a bust of Pope Pius IX, and on the bottom is the seal of the
Vatican. On the prayer bench in front of the altar is a small bible
printed in 1840. It is the smallest Bible in the world, and is
printed from real type. On the prayer bench is a small book depicting
the lives of the Saints. This was done in woodcuts.
Now we pass on to the room above the small hall. This is the cave of
Ali Baba and the 40 thieves. The treasure is reached by a trap door,
which opens only if you say the magic word.
The Library is done in a sea motif. Over the fireplace stands Captain
Kidd with his treasure behind him. The door to the right shows
Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday. Above the other door is Gulliver,
pulling the Lilliputian ships through the gates of the city. The
furniture has a sea motif and is verdigris copper. Seahorses and
seasnails hold the shell like furniture. This furniture is made for
fairy folk who like to read in different positions. That chair turned
up in front is made for a little elf, who likes to read with his feet
in the air. The books are all real. There are over 100 and many hand
written by some of our more prominent modern authors. These are first
and only editions. On the reading stand is a dictionary. This was
given to me by my father when I was only five years old and this is
what started my whole collection. There are many other printed books
in the library, many over a 150 years old.
As you go around the corner you will see the Magic Garden. Look for
the weeping willow tree standing by the pool. It's the only weeping
willow in the world that lives up to its name. Look closely and you
will see it is crying real tears, which fall into the pool. Then
notice that cradle that sirs on the rocking tree. It is made of gold
and pearls and, of course is the Rock-A-Bye-Baby cradle. Above the
three arches are represented the stories of Aesop's Fables.
To the left on the wall of the garden, in bas-relief is the story of
the Wizard Of Oz. Over the arched doorway, going into the Great Hall
is Aladdin with a genie coming out of his lamp, and Aladdin's servant.
The silver coach, well, of course you know that it is waiting for
Cinderella to take her to the ball.
Painted on the balcony is the story of Don Quixote, and if you will
look to the sky you will see Santa Claus' reindeer pulling his sleigh,
because, of course in Fairyland everyday is Christmas.
I hope you had a good time. And it was my great pleasure taking you
on a tour of my Fairy Castle. This is Colleen Moore saying goodbye.
I hope you enjoyed the tour as narrated by Colleen Moore herself. I
could never have brought the Fairy Castle to life like her words and
Below is a link to the Chicago Museum of Science and
Industry. Allow enough time to go to all the Fairy
Castle sites there.