Lova Cline’s Memorial: Indiana’s Other Dollhouse Grave
Indiana is home to not one but TWO of the most famous dollhouse graves in the United States.
Although the two are only 25 miles apart, the dollhouse grave of Vivian May Allison is better known, largely because its place in the Connersville City Cemetery is easily visible from Western Avenue. The dollhouse grave of Lova Cline is no less heartbreaking, but it’s tucked into the back of the Arlington East Hill Cemetery against a thin grove of trees and a railroad line. It’s hard to spot even from Google’s Streetview or GPS maps.
Born in 1902 (and the only child of George and Mary Cline), Lova Cline’s time on Earth was tenuous from the start. Records show baby Lova suffered from a chronic, crippling neurological condition, although that diagnosis is vague at best. Her parents George and Mary Cline doted on her. When she passed in 1908, she left her parents—and an entire community—crushed.
Sources differ on the origin of the dollhouse itself. Most describe it as her favorite toy during her brief life. Her unspecified affliction kept her bedridden, and her father, a carpenter by trade, installed large windows so she could view the interior easily from her bed. This being her favorite toy, George Cline weatherproofed it and then placed it over her grave after his daughter died, leaving instructions that it be torn down upon the death of himself and his wife.
Contemporary accounts—including a 1909 article from Rushville’s Daily Republican—suggest the dollhouse was made specifically for her gravesite.
The whole work was done by father and grandfather, George and C.C. Cline, and being a labor of love they spared neither time nor money in bringing the little structure to its present perfection…
The Daily Republican. 5/29/1909
Originally, Lova Cline’s memorial stood larger than most gravestones of that time at nearly five feet, and almost three feet long on each side. A wide bay window yawned open on one side of the dollhouse. Smaller windows peaked out on two other sides, and the back contained a window of glittering stained glass. Inside, on a dense mat of peach carpeting, George Cline placed a collection of Lova’s favorite toys: tiny dolls and furniture.
Despite George’s wishes, the community did not tear down the dollhouse after he and his wife had passed away in 1945 and ’46. Lova’s legend had become a community story, so Arlington moved the dollhouse and her body to her parents’ lot, interring them together under a single family gravestone.
Tragically, Lova Cline’s grave would not exactly rest in peace. After a 1973 article retold Lova’s story, thieves shattered the stained glass window, tore open her dollhouse, and stole the original dolls and dollhouse furniture. Those items have never been recovered. The community pooled together resources and rebuilt the house, reinforcing it and filling it with new toys.
Like any well-known gravesite, rumors of hauntings and ghostly sightings have swirled around Lova’s memorial, but none are true. What is true is the dollhouse has become a kind of unifying symbol for the community of Arlington, and a cultural bridge for its past, present, and future.
Want to Know More?
Check out Findagrave.com‘s entry for Lova’s gravesite. It contains another dozen pictures of the well-built memorial, including those taken by a half-anonymous site member Emily B. Be sure to leave Lova some flowers as well.