In Lanett, Alabama, a dollhouse sits in the middle of the city cemetery as a decades-old memorial. Nadine Earles was a small child when she died 74 years ago. Her father made her a promise before she died to build her a dollhouse.
The small house in the Lanett city cemetery marks the final resting place of Little Nadine Earles. She came down with diphtheria when she was four-years-old.
"She expressed to her dad and her mother that she would like to have a dollhouse for Christmas. But Nadine came down with this terrible disease that turned into pneumonia, and she died December 18, 1933," said Linda Fulcher, a Lanett historian.
Comer Earles knew she was becoming ill, so he started building a dollhouse in their back yard. But the family was quarantined, and he had to stop.
"They gave her her Christmas presents early, and that's when the dolls started," said Fulcher.
Soon after she died, city leaders allowed Earles to build the dollhouse around her grave.
"She said, 'Daddy, me want it now.' He always had that in his heart that he didn't quite make it before she died. Of course, they didn't know pneumonia would set in and she'd be taken so quickly," said Fulcher.
Seventy-four years later, residents are still taking care of the house.
"I know Nadine would be so happy that her dollhouse could be seen by everyone and maybe make someone else a little bit happier, too," Fulcher said.
The Town and Country Garden Club changes out seasonal decorations, and the dolls are switched out every Christmas. What started as an early present for Nadine has turned into an everlasting gift from the city.
"It's the love of a community to continue to do something for a family that cared enough for a little girl who said, 'Daddy, me want it now,' to have a beautiful place to be buried," Fulcher said.
This week's Hometown Spirit ends Friday with our game of the week. News Leader 9 will be live in LaFayette showcasing the Bulldogs and the Lanett Panthers.