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Bellport antique dollhouse exhibit thrills young and old

Valerie Dutka, of Holbrook, views a house with

Valerie Dutka, of Holbrook, views a house with her daughters Zoe, 3, Alexi, 6, and their grandmother Josie Koch, as the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society displays various doll houses during an exhibit inside the museum in Bellport, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Credit: Steve Pfost

Emilie Dunleavy couldn’t decide what to focus on first.

The 5-year-old from Riverhead bounced between displays Saturday at the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society’s new dollhouse exhibit.

For Emilie, the 2013 Barbie Malibu Dream House and 1964 Petite Princess Fantasy Furniture display, featuring a sparkly, blue living room chair, were equally exciting.

The exhibit, which continues through Oct. 2, features more than 30 antique dollhouses and play sets. Some, such as a handmade white-and-green cottage built in part from Popsicle sticks, represent real buildings. Others represent specific eras, like a plastic A-frame ski lodge, complete with sliding glass doors, from 1974.

Kate Carmel, the society’s president, said each piece came from a local collector after the society put out a call for submissions.

From basements and attics came the little houses and play sets now on display in the society’s museum Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 3 p.m.

One miniature house featuring sleek, modern furniture was manufactured by a Swedish toy company in the late 1960s and 1970.

“It’s so beautifully done,” Carmel said.

She paused before a glass case filled with dollhouse furniture pieces, arranged in small rooms.

“We’ve had a lot of kids come in, and one of the things they love is looking at lots and lots and lots of tiny things,” she said.

Marie Dunleavy of Riverhead followed as Emilie, her granddaughter, rattled off which houses and furniture pieces she liked best.

“She just got a beautiful handmade dollhouse, and it’s partially furnished,” Dunleavy said. “I don’t think there’s a Barbie out there that she doesn’t have.”

Gail Pennie, 56, of Eastport, admired the miniature replica of the society’s own Post-Cromwell House on Bellport Lane, complete with tiny period furniture.

Pennie said she recently inherited an old dollhouse from an aunt and was in the process of restoring it. She was looking for some ideas.

“I’ve always loved dollhouses,” she said. “I just find them fascinating.”

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