A 15-room dollhouse brimming with Bavarian-themed details is capturing the attention of visitors stepping into Davenport's German American Heritage Center.
Displayed on a table in the lobby, it is the details of the three-story house that amaze — tiny beer steins with hinged lids that actually lift up, minuscule forks on a table, small straight pins, and delicate needlepoint squares that serve as area rugs in the tiny rooms.
"Every time I look at it, I see something different," said Kelly Lao, center director.
What makes the house that is 55-inches wide, 38-inches tall and 19-inches deep especially appropriate for the center is its Bavarian flair, harking to what is now a state in Germany, formerly its own kingdom. It's a kind of "where's Waldo" of Deutschland themes.
On the bottom floor, for example, there is a room with four cows, a horse and two goats, representing a "haus barn." The latter was a two-story dwelling for both people and animals, with heat from the animals below helping to warm the human living quarters above, Lao explained.
Another room contains a schnitzelbank, or, literally, a scrap bench on which a person would sit to do carving. Standing in the room is a wandersmann, or wayfarer, a man dressed in lederhosen and a cap, carrying a walking stick, bringing to mind the German song, "The Happy Wanderer." (Lyrics: "I love to go a-wandering, along the mountain track, and as I go, I love to sing, my knapsack on my back. Val-deri, Val-dera, Val-deri, Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Val-deri,Val-dera. My knapsack on my back.")
Furniture in many of the rooms is painted using a decorative technique known as bauernmalerei, or, translated, "peasant painting," Lao said.
Two windows sport decals of a chimney sweep and a pig, two figures that would seem out of place in a window unless you knew that both are symbols of good luck in Germany, Lao said.
A gathering room contains a Christmas tree — a custom rooted in Germany — decorated with candles.
The attic peak features a window with a spider web, alluding to a Christmas folk tale about a spider that was so excited about seeing a Christmas tree that he ran up and down the branches. As he did, he left a web that looked drab and gray. But when Santa (or the Christ Child, depending on the version) arrived, he turned the gray into silver tinsel and "in that way, the spider was able to contribute to Christmas," Lao said.
Overall, the house architecture is Bavarian, with window boxes and flat, two-dimensional cutouts rather than rounded or squared spindles on the porch railings.
The words "Yodel House" and the date "1979" are carved in the front of the house, but little is known of its origin. Years ago, it was on display in Denkman Hall at Augustana College, Rock Island. When caretakers decided to remove the house, they asked Georg Gunzenhauser, a native of Germany and husband of an adjunct professor at the college, if he would like to have it.
He did, but within the past year he decided that he, too, needed to downsize and donated it to the German center, which sold it to Arlene (Rose) Considine.
Considine, a miniature collector from Albany, Illinois, bought it with the idea that she would clean it up and resell it, Lao explained. Considine spent much of the past summer cleaning every piece of furniture and accessories with Q-tips and making repairs as needed. She is hoping to sell it in the $1,000 range, and then make a donation back to the center.
"We're acting as a kind of liaison to have it find a good home," Lao said.