Interesting story about a glass house from 1937 Wilmington, Delaware – wish I knew more

(I discovered this story in an old newspaper clipping from The Morning Star, May 16, 1937 for Wilmington, Delaware. I imagine this playhouse was a site to see. I’m sure the village is probably gone by now but if anyone has pictures of the glass village, I would love to add them to the story. Mr. William Shaffer must have been very creative.)

In 1937, a village built wholly of glass intrigued the children of Wilmington, Delaware. The life-size playhouses were made in intricate designs from all kinds of porcelain, glassware and buttons, in the side yard of the Garber family 621 West Third street, built by William F. Schaffer of 307 Lorewood Avenue, Elmhurst.Wilmington delaware 1937 postcard

Playhouse stood seven feet high

The playhouse stood seven feet high and was made of more than 9,000 pieces of glass. In the front, a multi-mirror stood over the doorway. On the side, the handle of an ancient beer mug stood out from its cement foundation. “Nestled in one of the caves of the roof,” was some pieces of antique jewelry. Bright and fanciful buttons were placed underneath a window on the other side of the house.

Wilmington’s Waterfront (Images of America: Delaware)

Porcelain, cut-glass and all kinds of china in many different colors made up the beauty of the houses. The playhouse weighted more than two tons and was taken apart, moved and reconstructed. It addition to 9,000 pieces of glass, it contained more than 800 marbles. A windmill beside the house stood fifteen feet high and weighed 850 pounds. The weather vane was twelve and one-half feet high and contained 2,500 pieces of glass.

Withstood all kinds of weather

Mr. Schaffer stated “these houses have withstood all kinds of weather.” When asked how he happened to think about building them, he replied, “I was sitting on the porch by myself one day and wasn’t thinking about anything in particular, when the idea just came to me, and I started to build them a few days later. It takes anywhere from six weeks to three months to make a building. The windmill has the power to run washing machines and on windy days it can actually saw wood.”

For a time the houses were on display in Holly Oak, but because the land on which they were standing was made into a real estate development, they were moved into town, and later into the Garbers’ yard.

One of Mr. Schaffer’s plans was to build tiny park, containing nothing but ‘glass houses’. Before building glass houses, Mr. Schaffer traveled extensively over the United States. He lived in the West when it was young and exciting and prospected in a gold mine.

See best selling Books by Donna R Causey

FreeHearts: 2nd edition A Novel of Colonial America (Tapestry of Love Series Book 3) Inspired by true events, Col. John Washington (ancestor of President George Washington), Randall Revell, Tom Cottingham, Edmund Beauchamp ward off Indian attacks and conquer the wilds of Maryland’s Eastern shore in 17th century colonial America in this historical novel.

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She cohost the Podcast: Alabama Grist Mill and developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and

All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble.

She has authored numerous genealogy books.
RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2)
is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series)
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1)
is the continuation of the story. .

For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

One Response to Interesting story about a glass house from 1937 Wilmington, Delaware – wish I knew more

  1. Katie says:

    Hi Donna – I have a question about the image of the Wilmington DE postcard used in this post. I’m hoping to get this image printed on large-format canvas for my home, but the printers need the file of the image to be between 150-300 DPI and 4MB or greater. Do you have a version of this image that would meet these requirements?

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