|By Bob Thaxton
Published March 4, 2010
Children sang “Happy Birthday” and munched on cupcakes Tuesday morning at the 100th birthday celebration for the newly restored Dietz Doll House on Conservation Society property at the corner of River and Live Oak streets.
Serving as master of ceremonies for the birthday celebration was Marvel Maddox.
He and his wife, Bobbi, are the Conservation Society’s conservators for the Dietz Doll House, and Marvel described the history of the little structure for the assembled audience which included kindergarten students.
The doll house was built in 1910 for 5-year-old Alice O’Brien, an orphan born in a foundling hospital in New York City.
Like other orphans or homeless children of the era, Alice was sent by train to Texas for foster care or adoption.
Initially, Alice was taken in by John and Julia Magin of Seguin. However, Julia Magin died nine months later, and another home was sought for little Alice.
Volunteering to care for the little girl were Louis Dietz, a carpenter born in Germany, and his sister, Mollie Dietz.
Alice moved into the Dietz home on May 10, 1910, and it was around this time that Louis built the doll house for her.
“He made uniquely crafted items of wood,” Marvel Maddox told the crowd at the birthday celebration. “And a hundred years ago, Mr. Dietz didn’t have a bunch of power tools.”
According to the Conservation Society’s web site, Dietz built furniture, rocking horses, elephants, camels and animals on wheels.
He also made wooden fruit including watermelons and bunches of grapes as well as decorative clock shelves painted to look like marble.
A child-size wardrobe and dresser which he made are on display inside the Doll House.
When originally built, the Doll House sat to the right of the Dietz home at 423 N. Milam St. and to the left of the Dietz Cabinet Shop at 427 N. Milam St. Later, the Doll House was moved to become an entrance for the Dietz home, and eventually the home was purchased by the Castilla family.
In 1967, the Doll House was donated to the Conservation Society by Pablo Castilla and his son, Ralph, and the little house was moved to its current location next to Los Nogales Museum at 415 S. River St.
Maddox introduced members of the Castilla family who attended the birthday celebration and mentioned that one of the Castillas had come all the way from Fargo, North Dakota, for the event. The Castillas participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of the newly restored Doll House and in the unveiling of a new historical marker placed on the house.
Maddox presented certificates of appreciation to contributors who assisted in restoration of the Doll House.
They included The Koehler Company, Acme Brick Company, Tri-County Air Conditioning and Heating, Donald Morawietz, Home Depot, Keepers, Kim Schmidt, Altex Landscaping, Campbell Floors, Michael Hodges, Apex Glass, the Seguin Noon Lions Club, Sunrise Lions Club, Sunset Lions Club and the Geronimo Lions Club.