December 5th, 2011 at 9:00 am
Yesterday, you learned the train and ornament tradition of A Brandywine Christmas. Now we will learn another tradition that has been around for quite some time. Another facet of the Brandywine Christmas tradition comes from the legacy of N.C. Wyeth’s youngest daughter, Ann Wyeth McCoy, who began collecting beautiful bisque dolls in her childhood. Through the generosity of her children, more than 60 dolls will be arranged in small groups as though engaged in familiar wintertime activities, dressed in antique doll clothing or costumes designed and sewn by Mrs. McCoy from antique fabrics.
While Mrs. McCoy began collecting the dolls at the age of eight, she didn’t acquire a dollhouse for her beloved toys until 1966 when her husband, artist John McCoy, renovated a former tool shed that was on their summer property near Port Clyde, Maine. Mr. McCoy divided the interior into two floors with six main rooms and added a bow window, chimney and front porch. The “dollhouse” – significantly larger than most – measures 8 x 10 feet and stands 9 ½ feet high, large enough for two people to walk into.
The dollhouse was moved decades ago to the McCoys’ Pennsylvania property and is a featured part of the 2011 Christmas display. During her life, Mrs. McCoy decorated the rooms and furnished them with pieces from her collection. She especially enjoyed decorating the house for Christmas, recalling her own childhood when Christmas was the special purview of her father. From an old fashioned Christmas tree to the scaled reproduction of N. C. Wyeth’s Old Kris that hangs above the mantelpiece in the living room, the McCoy dollhouse is a delightful miniature world.
And so, the question is this: what are you asking for this year at Christmastime? Maybe to experience again the wide-eyed excitement of seeing a train coming around the track? Being able – as an adult – to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of the dolls your grandmother had in her parlor? Perhaps your family tradition is picking out an annual critter for your tree, in order to one day hand them down to a special little someone. However – and with whomever – you choose to enjoy A Brandywine Christmas, it’s guaranteed to make your holiday season magically bright. Stay tuned for some fun facts about our train collection!