Bob’s House – A 19th Century Sea Captain Cruises Into Bob’s House!

Selecting artwork to display inside the dollhouse has never been much of an issue with me. I simply selected ready-made, framed pieces sold online and in dollhouse shops that matched the theme or decor of the room.

That was until a certain 19th century sea captain with hair-raising timing changed everything.

Ready to beautify my empty walls, I brought my stash of mini picture frames and framed art out of the Imaginarium closet and began to sort through what I had. There were several ornate picture frames, (obviously intended for Crown Jewel Manor) as well as plainer ones (better suited to Bob’s House). I set those aside for family photos, already determined to “personalize” this tribute house in ways I had not done in previous projects.

Next, I sifted through framed artwork. I had a few unusual landscapes, some depictions of an English hunt, several famous paintings and far, far too many sepia toned portraits of people I didn’t know… often advertised as “instant ancestors”.

I believe the good Captain took offense to the latter, for what transpired next actually gave me the chills!

I almost had everything I did not intend to use back in the box, when I realized two framed pictures were actually stuck together. Gently I pried the two frames apart and was surprised on two counts… I had not damaged the “painting” on the bottom and… it was a boat! It was an unusual boat, to be sure… I had no idea how it came to be in my collection or what type of boat it was… I only knew I found it intriguing and it seemed like a good fit in a late 1940’s seaside farmhouse with a 12 year old boy who loved the sea.

I propped it up on the mantle in the dining room of Bob’s House and turned my thoughts to making mini family photos. What was unusual, is that I did not attach the picture to the wall right away. Normally I would have grabbed a bit of MiniHold and hung it on the wall immediately, but this time, I hesitated, and I don’t know why. I was about to make mini photographs but was not in any sort of rush.

My father was a true family man with a big heart and he kept his family close his entire life. Even those who had passed on were never far from his thoughts and his dear mother, my Grandmother, sat like a star on a Christmas tree at the top of his list of The Unforgotten. Dad kept a portrait of her smiling face on his bedside table and another next to the recliner in his living room all his life so I knew that Bob’s House needed photos of family… and the “fake ancestors” I had collected over the years would not do.

The question was, how to reduce the old sepia and black and white family photos I had to the right scale. In the past when I wanted to insert photos into my jewelry lockets, I simply cut out pictures of family in the background of full size photos but now I had to shrink them properly. Dad was often bemused with half-baked work.

It’s actually quite simple and there is more than one way to do it but I simply placed my old family photos (3X5″ and 4X6″) on the bed of my scanner, toggled to “Advanced Options”, selected “25%” for Image Size, pressed “Copy” and voila! Tiny images of familiar faces ready to frame for the dollhouse! Of course, this feature was not known to me when I first tried this 20 years ago with my new locket but all’s well that ends well and now I have photos of my parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc on the walls and tabletops of Bob’s House!

I made the photo of Dad (in his 82nd Airborne parachute rigging just before his qualifying jump), slightly larger than the others and hung it over the mantle in the living room… pride of place in his miniature tribute house.

Photo of my Dad in the 82nd Airborne takes pride of place in the living room.
Family photos on the walls of the living room.
Photos of my parents on the nightstand and wall.


After printing my downsized family photos, a leaf (a hint to new information) popped up on my screen and with a few simple clicks I had my family tree before me and clicked the leaf next to Charles F. Weeks (1815-1883), my great-great-great-great grandfather (on my father’s side) who has been in my family tree for over two decades with little information beyond the date of his birth. The leaf took me to my subscription where I read several vintage newspaper articles about Captain Charles Weeks his life and career. Having established the captain was indeed the same person as my GGGG-grandfather via various documents and sources, I found myself back on, and read with no small amount of fascination that Capt. Weeks was one of the oldest steamboat commanders when he passed away and during the course of his career he was known as a “daring navigator”. The articles made reference to his steamboat, The Bridgeport and curious, I searched Google to see if there was a sketch.

Captain Charles F. Weeks’ steamship The Bridgeport. Rendered in ink by Charles Parsons.


My jaw dropped the second I saw it! The Bridgeport was eerily similar to the ship in the old dollhouse picture! I had that mini picture in my stash for better than 20 years in the bottom of a box and here I was staring at the same sort of ship… a ship I had never seen before nor known anything about!!!

A chill went up my spine for coincidences and timing like this are not to be lightly dismissed. I honestly had goose bumps as my mind raced faster than one of Capt. Weeks’ steamships as I attempted to wrap my head around all of this. I couldn’t believe my eyes, but fate… luck… a competitive sea captain… something was bubbling to the surface here! I knew right away that The Bridgeport needed to be hung over the dining room fireplace in Bob’s House, not the vintage mini picture I had found… but that was until I saw The Nimrod!

My Google search had taken me via the Catalogs of the to The Bridgeport and below the link to The Bridgeport was Captain Weeks’ previous steamship, The Nimrod, in all its glory, rendered in watercolor by the famed maritime painter Jurgan Frederick Huge in 1843! The Bridgeport was newer and sleeker but something about The Nimrod appealed to me. Perhaps it was the incredible color that Mr. Huge imparted into the ship’s detailing in his painting, or Old Glory waving proudly off the stern, or the tiny sailboat in the background dwarfed by my GGGG grandfather’s ship as it sliced through the water but this one… this ship really spoke to me.

Just amazing!

Captain Charles F. Weeks’ steamboat The Nimrod. 1843 Watercolor by Jurgan Frederick Huge.

I sat back in my chair slackjawed, hardly able to believe my good fortune! Not only had I learned more about my GGGG grandfather than I had ever known, I knew then and there he was behind all of these fast-coming revelations. It was as if he is up there somewhere, saying “Don’t use that anonymous old dollhouse picture, use MY ship! Keep it in the family!”

Alright, Grandpa Weeks… I will do just that, Sir!… and I did.

I immediately ordered lithographs of both The Bridgeport and The Nimrod (via for my family tree archives and set to work on rendering the online images of The Nimrod and The Bridgeport into miniatures.

Next I made a pair of nice mini frames from scratch (I used dollhouse chair rail molding) and now both ships are proudly displayed in Bob’s House… at the behest of the rightfully insulted Capt. Weeks. No wonder I hadn’t hung that picture of the intriguing ship in the dining room, it wasn’t the “right” one!

The Nimrod above the mantle in the dining room of Bob’s House.
The Bridgeport on the wall of Little Bob’s room.

Now if you don’t think this (true) story can get any stranger, think twice! A few weeks ago I had printed mini mail with my Dad’s family’s name on it and stuffed the mini mailbox I had just painted black. The mailbox has hooks below to hold a newspaper and I went on to find out what newspapers would be historically accurate for this place and time (1947 Bridgeport, Connecticut). I learned The Bridgeport Evening Farmer (1866-1917) was popular and printed several front pages to display in the various areas of Bob’s House including the mailbox.

Weeks later, can you guess which newspaper resulted in the leaf hint that resulted in my discovering Capt. Charles Weeks and his steamships? If you guessed The Bridgeport Evening Farmer you are correct. What are the odds?

Here is a photo of a house flag I purchased for Bob’s House several weeks ago. I haven’t made a pole holder yet so the pole was temporarily stuck into the mailbox to hold it up, but there is the copy of The Bridgeport Evening Farmer! These coincidences are so bizarre it’s enough to make your head spin! I really should have saved this blog entry and posted it on Halloween, hahaha! (Note: a porch is being built for this side of the tribute house. The steps, pond, etc are not permanent).

I only wish my father had lived long enough to learn that his GGG grandfather was a sea captain, like his GG grandfather before him. His eyes would have shone like diamonds of sunshine reflected on the water, upon seeing those ships and reading accounts of Capt. Weeks’ daring career. is amazing! Have you ever read a local newspaper from the 1800’s or 1900’s? It’s like falling into Alice’s rabbit hole but in a fun way! You learn things, fantastical things, you would normally never dream of… the cost of a winter coat or a loaf of bread in 1898… who was in the hospital, on vacation or in town for the weekend in the 1950’s, and then there are the human interest stories that span decades and simply boggle the imagination. I recently read of The Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Turkey Chase, a contest in Philadelphia the week before Thanksgiving 1947. The local butcher had set 25 live turkeys loose all around the city on random days and folks lucky enough to catch them had a fine holiday feast for their family and friends! I guess Bob Cratchit had it easy after all!

Discovering the life and ships of Captain Charles F. Weeks was a timely find for Bob’s House! The “daring navigator” of the 1840’s who was once one of the first night pilots through Long Island Sound was not going to be outpaced! The lame, nameless vessel from the bottom of my mini stash was no match for his sleek and beautiful steamships, The Nimrod and The Bridgeport and nothing less but the walls of Bob’s House would do. Captain Weeks demanded his place in this mini time capsule.

Nice to finally know you, Grandpa Weeks. Permission to come aboard has been granted, Sir!

Next up, (how will I EVER top THIS?)… Adding DNA To Your Dollhouse!

♥ Robin

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IGMA Artisan Robin Brady-Boxwell

About - IGMA Artisan Robin Brady-Boxwell

Crown Jewel Miniatures by IGMA Artisan Robin Brady-Boxwell. Fine 1:12 scale dollhouse miniatures in ultimate realism! My blog is a compendium of new art, announcements, and advice on creating miniature food for the dollhouse and 1:12th scale shops, stores and scenes.
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