Welcome to Federal House!
A World In Miniature by Tom and Mary Stevenson
This page is dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Rosamond (Marshall) Forbes - this house was her legacy.
The Federal House is a 1/12th scale (1 foot = 1 inch) dollhouse, originally belonging to Mrs. Rosamond Forbes, the wife of CAPT Donald K. "Deke" Forbes, United States Navy, (Retired). Deke was a fighter pilot who flew many different jet aircraft throughout the 1950s and 1960s. We don't know exactly when Rosamond built Federal House (or even if she did), but we do know that she spent many, many hours over the years making her own creations to decorate it!
Around 2011, the Stevensons became friends with CAPT Forbes and his wife, Rosamond, who were nearby neighbors. Turns out that the Forbes and the Stevensons had a common bond: CAPT Forbes was the Commandant of Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD from 1973 through 1976 while Tom was a Midshipman attending the Naval Academy from July 1973-June 1977. Deke retired from active Naval Service in the same month and year (June 1977) that Tom was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy.
Like Mary Stevenson, Mrs. Forbes was an avid dollhouse enthusiast, who prided herself on making fantastic, clever decorating creations for the Federal House from little or nothing. Mrs. Forbes health deteriorated in the 2012 timeframe, and she passed away on March 6, 2013. CAPT Forbes, knowing how much his wife had cherished her dollhouses, gave them to Mary Stevenson, knowing that Mary would care for them as much as his dear wife Rosamond had. Rosamond's creations became "Federal House" and "Jane's Bakery".
The Federal House is an open-front 3 story brick and clapboard style house, completely hard wired electrically on three separate circuits. The entire dollhouse is wired for multiple electric lights in each room including four fireplaces, dozens of lamps and illuminations, as well as several simulated candle sconces.
The front porch is faux brick sporting dual doorposts supporting a second-floor balcony overlooking the entryway. The facade is very typical of what would have been a Federal Style townhouse one might find in any large American city such as Alexandria VA or Philadelphia PA constructed during the period from 1780-1830.
The house is 36 inches wide with the front facade closed, but stretches to five and a half feet with both doors open! Federal House is 20 inches deep and 42 inches high to the top of the chimneys. The house consists of 11 rooms on three floors, plus a delightful touch of intrigue: a "secret passageway" from the "Master's Den" on the second floor to the "Maid's Room" on the third floor!
The Federal House is being placed on public display in 2019 at the "Wee Christmas" Miniatures Exhibit at the Historic Kenmore House, 1201 Washington Avenue, Fredericksburg, VA, December 7-30 2019. We hope you and your family can pay it a visit!
Please join us for a Victorian visit into Christmas past! The Federal House is the property of the (fictional) Mr. John Wesley Danforth, Sr., President of the Dominion Bank of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and his lovely wife Elizabeth (Duckworth) Danforth, known as "Ducky" to her friends. While the Danforths reside in the Danforth Mansion on the banks of the Potomac River, Federal House is located in Alexandria, VA circa 1890.
The Federal House is currently occupied by Ducky's sister, Emily (Duckworth) Butler and her husband Ashley Butler (the latter employed by the Dominion Bank), and their children (Tad, aged 7, and Madeleine, aged 9). In addition, Ducky's father, Mr. Ulysses Grant Duckworth, Esq., and Ducky's mother, Harriet, as well as Ducky's spinster sisters, Charlotte and Anne, are visiting for the holidays.
The family's "live-in" maid, Miss Mary Margaret ("Maggie") Murphy, late of Mallow, County Cork in Ireland, is putting together a wonderful meal for all to enjoy. This close to Christmas, the decorations are up, and the children can't wait for the arrival of Santa Claus!
Click on each picture to see a full-size view, then click your browser's "Back" button to return.
September, 2019: Reconstruction begins! A long time in coming, we've pulled everything out of the house to assess the situation. Tom then began laboriously soldering in new lighting fixtures and splices; over 100 individual connections were soldered! Tiny shrink-wrap tubing covers each connection to prevent shorts.
Rosamond cleverly made most of the interior walls and stairways removeable, which was a huge benefit when trying to solder tiny connections inside of the house.
Front during reconstruction. 3rd floor window was removed so we could create a "twin" to the 2nd floor stained glass window.
We took a picture of the old window using Mary's iPhone, then scaled it in Photoshop, printed it in color on Computer Grafix Clear Adhesive Backed Film for Inkjet Printers, cut it out and adhered it to the old 3rd floor window, then used Gallery Glass Liquid Lead to finish it.
Here's the wiring at the back of the house. There are three fused plug-blocks - two here visible and one hidden inside the roof, which we cannot access at all. That's truly ugly...
So, Tom made a cover of 1 x 2's and 1/4 inch plywood, overlayed it with scale clapboard and finished it with corner pieces and some white paint, so it matches the sides of the house. It simply hangs on the silver aluminum "J" channel mounted by screws at the very top of the rear of the house (see uncovered picture); it's actually a wall hanger for a glass mirror, $10 at Home Depot.
The inside of the wooden support at the top of the cover has a slot routed in it, using a Dremel tool, to fit the "J" channel snugly. Velcro holds the bottom of the cover when it's in place. The cover just slides off by lifting it vertically.
Now let's take a tour of Federal House! Here's the main entryway and dining room. We added double-candle sconces to each side of the front entryway to illuminate this area. The table is set with lovely china and illuminated by a large lighted chandelier and a fireplace mantel lamp.
Another look at the Front entryway, with brick stairs in view, and the dining room. The right doorway leads to the living room and staircase up to the 2nd floor; the left door goes to the kitchen.
Here's Mr. Duckworth getting ready for a stroll. His Panama Boater straw hat and umbrella are on the coat rack, along with various other hats and bonnets.
The somewhat cluttered kitchen. Kitty is asleep in her bed. Who's been into the pie??
Maggie the Maid is brewing up some tea in the kitchen and frying eggs. She'll have lots of work to do...
Another view of the kitchen. The bread is ready to be made, and the banjo clock needs winding, Maggie!
Here's the Living Room. The staircase on the left goes to the 2nd floor hallway. The Christmas lights are lit, but the tree hasn't been put up yet.
A close-up of the Living Room. Note the alcove on the left rear, under the staircase, with illuminated portraits.
"The Aunties" (Charlotte and Anne Duckworth) converse in the living room over a pot of tea and a warm fire.
Second Floor Hallway. The right hand door goes to the Master's Den. The left doorway enters the Master Bedroom. The Japanese-style painting at the end of the hallway is a miniature version of a real-life brush-painting done by our son, Chris Glidden. Chris passed away from pancreatic cancer in February, 2019.
The Master Bedroom with its "Four-Poster" bed, and fresh roses on the stand. There is actually a fireplace in the Master Bedroom, around the corner and beyond the bathroom, with a lamp on the mantle, but you can only see it from outside, through a side-window.
Here is the full bathroom, with porcelain fixtures. You can see the corner of the "Four-Poster" bed in the Master Bedroom, through the bathroom door.
The Master's Den and Library. It has a ladder to reach those high books. Notice the secret door in the bookcase, which goes to a narrow stairway ending in the Maid's room. What could Ashley be up to?
Ashley Butler and Tad in the Den. Looks like it might be time for Tad's violin lesson.
Third floor hallway. The door on the left goes to the Children's Bedroom. The right-hand door is the main door to the Maid's Bedroom.
The Children's Bedroom - lots of dolls to play with. A budding young artist has been at work here.
Madeleine Butler is having a tea party with her dolls in her bedroom.
This is the bedroom of the Butlers' Live-In Maid, Maggie Murphy. A bit unkempt, don't you think?
Closeup view of the secret passageway staircase from the Master's Den straight up to Maggie's Bedroom. Oh my!!!
This picture is a miniaturized copy of an actual colorized photograph, taken circa 1902, of Mary's Great-Aunt Caroline Magee. The miniaturized portrait is hanging on the door-wall of the living room, and is visible when the facade doors are open.
We hope you enjoyed your pictorial tour of the Federal House! Here it is all closed up for the evening - with all the lights on.
We had a special picture book printed in Rosamond Forbes' honor, entitled "Mrs. Forbes' Fabulous Facts - An Expert's Guide to Building the Perfect Doll House", which showcased all the wonderful and talented effort she put into making the Federal House a work of art. Deke told us that this dollhouse was her passion. We presented a copy of the book to Deke Forbes and kept a copy for ourselves. There is also a tiny scale copy of the book in the Federal House! Thank you for visiting with us!