With dolls residing in their own life-size dollhouse, the Millie Seaton Collection of Toys and Dolls, located in the historic Augusta Hofheinz House, is part nostalgia and part fantasy. Every available space within the three-story home showcases dolls in curio cabinets, on bookshelves and small furniture, lining the stairs, and even in the bathrooms.The sheer number of dolls in the collection is hard to comprehend without a complete tour. There are wooden dolls, china dolls, dolls made from celluloid, leather, tin, paper mache, clothespins, corncobs, and rags. Included are unique groupings of dolls depicting figures from sports, politics, Hollywood, and old TV shows. These grouping are matched with accessories to make the collection more interesting.
Tours, arranged by appointment, are free to the public. “There are a lot people in the world who love dolls as much as Millie does and can’t afford to buy them. Millie believes all people should be able to enjoy viewing the dolls without charge,” said guide, Nikki Seaton. Holiday tours will include more than 350 Santas and a unique Christmas tree adorned with old hats, gloves, handkerchiefs, baby booties, and vintage clip-on earrings.
Seaton tours 1-200 persons at time, beginning in the handicap accessible first floor. Each tour, lasting approximately an hour and a half, is a blend of history, story telling, and childhood reminiscence. “People get emotional when they see dolls from when they were a kid,” said Seaton.
“The attic portion of the tour is the place where children are able to touch the dolls and play,” said Seaton. The redesigned attic holds a collection of over 500 Barbie family dolls, GI Joes, Beanie Babies, Teddy Bears, Cabbage Patch, Pillsbury Dough Boys, and the largest doll in the collection, a 6 foot Raggedy Anne. Interspersed between dolls are more accessories, books, and old Victrola.
After leaving the attic, the tour continues to the guesthouse and garage on the back of the property. The garage is filled with primitive memorabilia. The guesthouse above the garage contains various dollhouses, miniature scenes, comic strip characters, vintage toys and games.
Millie Seaton did not own a single doll until she was 36 years old. She grew up a tomboy and first became interested in dolls after reading a January 1965, “Woman’s Day” article, “Dictionary of Dolls.” Seaton, who holds an art degree, later opened a doll repair store in Dallas. She acquired many of her dolls through travels and contacts from her repair shop. Seaton continues to add to her collection and often receives donations from people who don’t want their personal collections dispersed or sold after death.
Located at 1104 W. Hopkins, The Augusta Hofheinz House, bought by Seaton in 1982, is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Seaton family claims the ghost of Hofheinz still resides in the house and on occasion has disturbed a display.
The Santa display starts after Halloween and stays up until the end of February.
The house is available for birthday parties, receptions, tea parties, baby and bridal showers, meetings and engagements on a donation basis.
Tours or party arrangements can be made by calling (512) 396-1944.
by Elisa Laraia
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