Maria Hubbard and Cliff Hubbard describe their parents as passionate, persistent, artistic, determined and private.
And if both were alive today, the Hubbard children would add the word “delighted,” because a dollhouse that Lilia and Clifford Hubbard designed and built several years ago is now on display for area residents.
The house, named “Villa Lilia,” is approximately 6 feet long and 4 feet high and is on display inside the main hall of the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie.
Built by the Hubbards in their Metairie home from 1982 to 1984, the two-story dollhouse includes a kitchen, living room and dining room on the first floor and two bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor.
And there are Barbie and Ken dolls in every room.
“I have to say that my parents were obsessed with building this dollhouse,” recalled Maria Hubbard, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee. “They just couldn’t stop. I can remember going to the hardware store or the hobby store with my mother, and when she saw something she thought could work in the dollhouse, she would buy it. Like my father, she saw possibilities in everything, even in things that many would consider mundane.”
“My parents were persistent and consistent people,” Cliff Hubbard added. “There was no doubt that they were committed to completing the dollhouse. And their sense of responsibility and commitment is something they both passed on to me and Maria.”
Lilia Hubbard, who died last year, was an accomplished mosaic artist. She designed the house and made almost all the furnishings. Clifford Hubbard, who died in 1997, used more than 3,000 bricks for the exterior and 300 shingles for the roof. He also designed the electrical work for the house.
“My dad would take a regular-size brick and cut it into small pieces to fit the exterior of the house,” Maria Hubbard said. “He did the same thing with the shingles, taking a regular-size shingle and then cutting it to make it fit the dollhouse.”
Lisa Conescu is a board member and a past president of the Friends of the Jefferson Public Library, a nonprofit organization that supports the Jefferson Parish Library. She said a friend who knows Cliff Hubbard told her about the dollhouse and asked Conescu to evaluate whether placing it on display at the library would be feasible.
“Dollhouses have always been an interest of mine, so I was glad to go to the Hubbard home and take a look at it,” said Conescu, who also is the executive director of Jefferson Dollars for Scholars. “Well, when I saw the house, I just couldn’t believe the size of it and that each room was large enough to fit Barbie dolls inside. And the detail in every room is just amazing.
“Many people will get a chance to see it, now that it’s on display at the library. It will attract both children and adults who have an interest in miniatures, arts and crafts, hobbyists and, of course, dollhouses. It’s a beautiful piece, and we’re excited to have it on display.”
The house will remain on exhibit at East Bank Regional for five months. After that, it will be moved to the Jane O’Brien Chatelain West Bank Regional Library, 2751 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey, where it will be on display for another five months before being returned to the Hubbard home in Metairie.
“My mom was a very private person,” Maria Hubbard said. “But I remember that when someone came to the house while she and my father were working on the dollhouse, she couldn’t wait to show it. And now, all these years later, for the house to be on display in a public place would have absolutely delighted my mother. She would be very happy that so many people will get a chance to enjoy the dollhouse.”
“I agree with Maria,” Cliff Hubbard added. “Our parents worked hard all of their lives and were proud of everything they accomplished. For people throughout the area to have an opportunity to see their dollhouse that our parents put so much effort and love into would have made them both very happy. And I can’t help but have a sense of pride in what my parents accomplished.”