When Deborah Miller found an abandoned four-room dollhouse on the curb, she knew this was her chance to have a Little Free Library book box. She brought it home to her husband, a carpenter, and asked if he could turn it into a Little Free Library. The night before Deborah’s birthday, while she was asleep, he snuck outside and installed the dollhouse on a post by the street.
The next morning, he surprised her with it and promised he’d weatherproof it when he had time. “His intentions were good, but his work kept him very busy, and a few weeks went by with no progress on the weatherproofing plan,” says Deborah.
“One day, I noticed a tiny dining room chair in one of the open dollhouse rooms. A week or so later a matching table showed up. Then, at the rate of one piece per week, all four chairs and a dish cupboard appeared! We thought it was a good-natured hint from a neighbor to finish the project. I began asking all my neighbors when I saw them if they were our clever furniture donors. They all convinced me they were not, but they were equally intrigued.”
Over the next seven months, the mysterious donations continued until it became a fully-furnished dollhouse, complete with a grand piano, a tiny canvas of original art, a kitchen, an upstairs bedroom, a full bath, and even handmade tiny curtains. Once the house was full, the additions stopped, but still no one came forward as the mystery furniture donor.
Deborah and her husband decided hire a friend to finish the weatherproofing job on the dollhouse so that it could finally become a Little Free Library. They removed the library from its post, leaving the empty pole in the yard.
“The next day a sign appeared on the pole that said ‘Boo Hoo!’ As I gardened, EVERYONE who walked by asked me what happened, so I wrote a multi-versed limerick to hang on the pole to answer the questions when I wasn’t there. The final verse invited the mysterious donor to knock on our door. To my delight and surprise, they did, with a limerick of their own to tell their side of the story,” says Deborah.
It turns out he mystery furniture donors were a retired couple that lived a few blocks away, but they had never met before! The couple drove past the dollhouse often and wondered about it, so one day they started the secret game. “Apparently they came every Sunday morning while we were in church,” says Deborah. “We exchanged visits, happy hours, and meals at each other’s homes and became good friends!”
Eventually, Deborah threw a big party to unveil the new Little Free Library book exchange. They added an enclosed room on the side of the library as a tribute to the dollhouse and named it the Kaiser-Allen Reading Room. The room was furnished as a tiny music room and library, with the help of an expert dollhouse enthusiast.
“The library is still going strong and gets many visits every day. We live in a bookish community on a cut-through street between two major Atlanta corridors, near Emory University, so the library sustains itself with a constantly moving supply of books,” says Deborah.