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Small house generates big buzz at Brooksby

Created date

August 21st, 2012

Passersby have described the three-story Victorian farmhouse with words like magnificent and fabulous. Fascinated, they visited it during the construction phase and upon completion, occasionally tinkering with the items inside. Though home for them is Brooksby, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass., the people living there have taken an interest in this particular house a dollhouse built by Pete Jalbert, who also lives at Brooksby. The adults are having as much fun, if not more, than whoever the lucky child is who gets this, says Earline Martin, who lives at Brooksby and contributed to the making of the dollhouse. Pete worked for three months in Brooksby s woodshop to build the dollhouse his ninth but the first to be donated to Brooksby. After creating much buzz throughout the community, the dollhouse was raffled off last month at an art show and silent auction, raising more than $500 for the campus charity fund from $5 tickets (five for $20). The dollhouse is a gorgeous piece of craftsmanship, and we are so pleased that Peter is sharing his gifts to create communities that celebrate life, says Beth McNelis, director of philanthropy and communications at Brooksby, quoting one of the founding principles of Erickson Living. The dollhouse has been a real attention-getter, McNelis adds. As people come in to marvel at it, we get the opportunity to talk about the Benevolent Care Fund and what it means to the financial security of the residents here at Brooksby. As a not-for-profit community dedicated to supporting residents who experience an unforeseen change in their financial situation for reasons beyond their control, our Home for Life Commitment provides several options to protect their future. (Ask to see Brooksby s Residence and Care Agreement for complete details.)

Detailed craft, humble intentions

The six-room house prompted praise for its precision and detail, inside and out. Two wraparound porches encase a flower box and vases, welcoming from the outside. Inside, carefully chosen wallpaper and handmade rugs, curtains, and bed linens add life to the rooms. Praising the work of the project s lead craftsman, Earline says, Pete cuts every eighth of an inch of plank hardwood floor, and then he sands it and then stains it. All the shingles are separate, all the banisters and pieces and the stairway; it s fabulous what he has done. It even has doorknobs! she adds. Pete made his first dollhouse 50 years ago from his own design as a gift for his daughter. Woodworking was a longtime hobby he pursued in his cellar workshop when he wasn t working in his full-time job at AT&T s central office. Following his first endeavor, Pete continued to build dollhouses from purchased kits, but with add-ons like hardwood floors, or in the case of the latest house, a handmade chimney of tiny bricks. Pete has anonymously donated each additional house to disadvantaged families. I was born in a very poor family, and that s maybe why I do some of the things that I do, he says. Since moving to Brooksby three years ago this month from Salem, Mass., Pete has taken advantage of the community s woodshop, also building smaller creations there. He spent about 40 hours a week and purchased the materials himself to create the latest dollhouse, intending from the start to donate it to Brooksby. I just felt like making another one, Pete says of the inclination to build his ninth dollhouse. Earline became involved during a dinner conversation at Brooksby, when a mutual friend asked if Earline would be willing to put her crocheting talent to use on the project. She made the dollhouse s rugs, linens, and curtains of different colors and sizes. When spotted crocheting the tiny pieces, Earline fielded questions from interested onlookers and quickly spread the word about the dollhouse. Men and women visited the woodshop to view the progress and photos of Pete and the house ran on Brooksby s in-house TV channel TV9, gaining Pete recognition community-wide. In the weeks leading up to the auction, the dollhouse was displayed in all three clubhouses at Brooksby, giving everyone a chance to admire it. You try to be perfect; you can t, but I try to get as close as I can, he says.