Long before the aficionados responsible for vacuum cleaner dollhouses, small-scale homes inside guitars, and other staggeringly detailed miniatures were even a gleam in their fathers' eyes, silent film star Colleen Moore was queen bee of elaborate doll dwellings. Around the time she was making the big bucks starring in films like 1934's The Scarlet Letter and 1928's Lilac Time Moore commissioned architect/set designer Horace Jackson to build Fairy Castle, a deluxe spread complete with chandeliers encrusted with diamonds, emeralds, and pearls; murals and paintings by Walt Disney; and more than 2,000 miniature chateau accoutrement. In all, the manse, which measured 8'7" by 8'2" by 7'7" set her back $500K, something like $6.991M when accounting for inflation.
By 1935, over 700 people—including a "surgical instrument lighting specialist,"—had contributed to Fairy Castle. Said the architect, "the architecture must have no sense of reality. We must invent a structure that is everybody's conception of an enchanted castle."
When it was finished, Moore took it all on tour, raising $650K for charity during the aftermath of the Great Depression. A decade later, at a dinner party in 1949, Moore agreed to let Lenox Lohr, director of Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, make a permanent resting place for the dollhouse at the museum.