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Girl Scout Little House

Girl Scout Little House, 1750 New York Ave, Washington, DC
Little House, Washington, D.C.
Little House Doll House on display at the Herbert Hoover Museum
Little House Dollhouse on display at the Hoover Museum
Side view of Little House Doll House
Side view of Little House Dollhouse
Kitchen in Little House Doll House
Kitchen in Little House Dollhouse

The Little House Dollhouse is an exact replica of a real house that was located in Washington, D.C.

In the early 1920s America's housing and living conditions badly needed improvement. In 1922 the Better Homes in America movement was founded with the General Federation of Women's Clubs actively supporting the program. In 1923, as part of Demonstration Week, a prototype house was built on government property, Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce, laid the cornerstone for the house. At the end of Demonstration Week the house needed to be relocated from government property. Since the Girl Scouts had some of the same objectives for which the house had come into being, the house was offered to the Girl Scout National Council. Lou Henry Hoover was president of the Girl Scouts at this time and she made a gift of $12,00 (equivalent to $157,000 today) to move the house to a new location, install a basement, heating and landscaping. The house was moved in 1924 and became the property of the Girl Scouts. At a re-dedication ceremony, President's Coolidge's wife with the assistance of Mrs. Hoover, laid a cornerstone at the new location.

In its new location the Girl Scout Little House was to serve as the headquarters for demonstrating the home-making activities of the Girl Scouts - "a halfway house between the playhouse of childhood and the home every girl hopes to achieve some day.". President and Mrs. Coolidge were served a turkey dinner there, cooked by Girl Scouts. President and Mrs. Hoover were served a 24 cent luncheon, cooked by Girl Scouts, to demonstrate a low cost, balanced meal. Mrs. Hoover and the Better Homes for America Foundation encouraged the building of similar model homes throughout the country - eventually 178 of these houses were built.

In 1930 Mrs. Hoover commissioned a New York craftsman to make, at her expense, an exact reproduction of the Little House, even to the paper on the walls. The dolls in the house were dressed in Girl Scout uniforms. The dollhouse and Mrs. Hoover made their appearance at the 16th National Girl Scout Convention on Oct. 1, 1930 and afterwards the dollhouse went on national tours to publicize the Little House projects. However, because the dollhouse was so fragile the decision was made to keep it at the Little House headquarters.

During and after World War II, the Little House was no longer used as a headquarters by the Girl Scouts but was rented by various government agencies. In the early 1970's, the Little House was demolished to make way for a high rise office building.

Just outside of the city of Great Falls was the Girl Scout camping center at Rockwood. When the main Girl Scout Little House was abandoned (about 1945) the dollhouse was sent to Rockwood where it was stored until May 1950. By 1950 the dollhouse and its history were long forgotten. The woman in charge of Rockwood evidently saw no value in the toy and placed it on the property's trash site.

A woman named Mrs. Hill worked as a maid at the Rockwood property and she also worked for a family named Angel. In May of 1950 Mrs. Hill told Mrs. Angel that a wonderful dollhouse had been tossed in the trash and that Mrs. Angel's daughter would love it. Its history might have been lost forever except that the little girl's father was Herbert Angel, Deputy Archivist of the United States (1968-1972). With a devoted interest in history and the knowledge and resources to research information, he was able to discover the history of the dollhouse. The house remains in the Angel family and is on loan to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum.

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
P.O. Box 488
210 Parkside Drive
West Branch, IA 52358