the holy grail for me, as a great admirer of fairy houses, i finally had the chance to see
colleen moore’s dream come true and breathtaking fairy castle
at the museum of science and industry in chicago
Silent film star Colleen Moore was always fascinated by dolls and doll houses. She owned several elaborate doll houses as a child, but later in life her father, Charles Morrison, suggested that she should pursue her passion for miniatures and doll houses by creating the “doll house” of her dreams. Her position as a popular actress in Hollywood gave her the resources to produce a miniature home of fantastic proportions. Beginning in 1928, Moore enlisted the help of many talented professionals to help her realize her vision.
Creating the Fairy Castle
Horace Jackson, an architect and set designer who worked for First National Studios, created the floor plan and layout of the castle with the basic idea that “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 help of art director and interior designer Harold Grieve. Grieve had designed the interiors for Moore’s actual mansion, so he was a natural to create the interiors of her fantasy castle.
By 1935, approximately 100 people worked on the Fairy Castle. The price tag for this 8’7″ x 8’2″ x 7’7″ foot palace, containing more than 1,500 miniatures, was nearly $500,000.
In 1935 Colleen Moore’s child-like fascination with her Fairy Castle was transformed by the Great Depression into a passion for helping children. She organized a national tour of the Fairy Castle to raise money for children’s charities. The tour stopped in most major cities of the United States and was often exhibited in the toy departments of prominent department stores. A brochure from The Fair in Chicago promotes it: “A museum in itself—it awaits you—starting November 15th in our Eighth Floor Toyland. You will want to see it again and again.” The tour was a huge success and raised more than $650,000 between 1935 and 1939.
Coming “Home” to the Museum
In 1949 Major Lenox Lohr, director of the Museum of Science and Industry, convinced Colleen Moore to have the Fairy Castle make one final journey. She described their encounter as follows: “When I was seated next to Major Lohr at a dinner recently in the directors’ coach at the Chicago Railroad fair, he mentioned the doll house while we were having soup, and by the time dessert was served, he had the doll house!”
Millions of guests have enjoyed their visit to the castle since it first arrived at the Museum, and it remains a timeless reminder of the imagination, ingenuity and craftsmanship of cultures and artisans all over the world.
“a dream Is a wish your heart makes”
– song written and composed by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston
A collection of fairy tales written by child refugees in Greece has gone on sale to help those like the book’s authors.
Travelling Tales features a rugby-playing dog, a king who grew to love animals and chickens fighting an alien invasion among its eight stories.
The book is the brainchild of Brazilian journalist Debora de Pina Castiglione and her sister Beatriz. The two combined their love of words and illustrations to create the book but the ideas came directly from the children.
Debora ran workshops with Syrian and Kurdish children aged between four and 14 years old, at three refugee camps close to Thessaloniki in Vasilika, Lagadikia and Oreokastro.
It gave the children something to do without focusing on their own lives.“The idea was not to have the children talk about their journeys or experiences fleeing war, at least not directly,” Debora said. “It was to let them tell the stories they wanted to, in ways they chose themselves.
“I think it’s important for young people to engage with one another. Children all over the world are watching the refugee situation, or hearing it on news programmes their parents watch and listen to, and as well as hoping it would be an interesting project for the children at the camps, I wanted to do something so the children outside of the crisis could see the children caught up in it on their own terms, as children with fun and interesting stories, just like they are.”
And there is something entirely captivating about the stories. In The Travelling Princess, Amira shuns her royal title to live as a poor person who goes around giving away gold she found as she explored the world.
In Aliens vs Chicken, Earth is under attack from extraterrestrials who want to steal all the chicken eggs in the world. While humans are relieved about the aliens’ demands, the chickens are not happy and fight back, reclaiming the eggs.
The story was written by nine-year-old Shahd who lives in the military camp of Lagadikia. Debora describes her stories as “full of adventure. Her creativity reminds us that there are heroes even where we least expect to find them.”
“We spent four months with the children,” Debora added. “In some cases, the children spoke English very well, and had quite clear ideas of their stories. In others, we worked with a translator, and also spent time with them to help them develop their ideas, to make the stories hold together better.
“But the point was that these are the stories of the children, so we didn’t change their words, or add anything they did not include themselves.”
Five professional illustrators helped to bring the stories to life, including Beatriz.
The book was published last month and is available in English as well as Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Dutch. It is for sale via Amazon priced at £10.
Money collected from the sale of the book will be used to help support projects that look for alternative housing solutions to the military camps.
“hope is a waking dream.”
credits: the irish news, Debora and Beatriz de Pina Castiglione, child refugees in greece