Mather Homestead wonders what historical dolls have seen
The Mather Homestead is examining Darien history in its collection this summer.
Against the eastern wall in the Mather Homestead attic, sits a large black steamer trunk. A metal tag riveted into the top reads "Marshall Field & Company Retail Chicago." On the right side, in large letters are the initials: "S.T.M." The trunk was no doubt purchased by Stephen Mather during his professional years in Chicago.
Inside this trunk, there are 22 dolls altogether, on the top insert there are twelve and on the lower portion, there are ten. These dolls are seemingly from the four corners of the earth. There's an American Indian doll, dolls representing the Orient, a particularly scary figure from Bali D.E.I, and King George VI in coronation regalia to name a few.
The newspaper wrapping some of the dolls’ clothes is from the New York Times on Jan. 31, 1954…65 years ago. The dolls were most likely put away by Bertha Mather McPherson, for at that time her youngest daughter would have been in her early teens.
The George VI doll is in its original Liberty London box and was made to commemorate the May 1937 coronation. This doll was probably purchased by or given to the McPhersons, whose elder daughter would have been nearing her third birthday at that time.
Will we ever know if some dolls were the favorites? Will we ever even know if they were given names and what those names might have been? It is likely not. And perhaps that is their legacy to hold and their mystery to share.
The Mather Homestead became a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Several years ago, two open fields at the corners of Stephen Mather Road and Brookside Road were conveyed to the Darien Land Trust to be maintained as open fields. In 2017, the Mather Homestead deemed a "Protected Town Landmark" and donated by the McPherson family to The Mather Homestead Foundation will preserve the property and operate a museum. For more info visit: matherhomestead.org.