A photograph published last month in the Lexington Herald-Leader of a child-size cabin on the grounds of Waveland state historic site has brought back precious memories for 86-year-old Oneida Cassity.
In 1930, Cassity's father, Morris J. Peel, and her older brother Lucien Peel built the log cabin at the family's farm in southeastern Jessamine County as a playhouse for Cassity. She was 4.
As the youngest of Morris and Olive Peel's six children, Cassity said her parents and siblings doted on her.
"We didn't have a lot of money, but they all did things for me," Cassity said.
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She said the family was self-sufficient and industrious. Cassity recalled it took the two men about a year to build the playhouse because they also had to tend the farm.
Cassity is now a retired elementary school teacher who lives in Lexington with her husband, Welch Cassity, 91. She said that as a child she spent hours playing with dolls in the playhouse.
It had a stone chimney, a wood-shingle roof and a working fireplace. Cassity remembers lying on quilts in front of the fire. Her mother crocheted a rug for the floor, and the husband of her oldest sister built her a child-size dresser, a table and a doll bed. One Christmas Eve, Cassity said, Santa Claus delivered the furniture.
Cassity's twin daughters, Marsha and Lucia Cassity, born in 1954, played in the house when they visited the Jessamine County farm.
"We would run to the cabin," Lucia Cassity said. "I remember playing like that was our home."
Oneida Cassity said that when her father was determining matters of his estate before he died in 1977, he declared that "the playhouse is Oneida's to do with as she pleases."
By that time, Oneida Cassity said, she and her husband had plans to spend a few years of their retirement in Florida, and they decided they couldn't keep the playhouse.
The Cassitys thought about donating the building to a state park. They said they contacted officials at Waveland, the antebellum mansion off Nicholasville Road, who said they'd be happy to have the little cabin on their grounds.
State officials didn't have the money to move the structure, so Welch Cassity paid a construction company $465 to move it to Waveland, where it would be appreciated.
Since then, Oneida Cassity has visited the playhouse a few times over the years. Once, she and a group of friends from high school took a picnic lunch to Waveland. In 1997, the Cassitys and their daughters had a family portrait taken in front of the playhouse.
The Cassitys said they were surprised in 1990 when a newspaper ad for McAlpins, a retailer in Lexington at the time, featured children standing in front of the playhouse.
At Waveland, the playhouse is often used for photographs of children and families, said Gil Lawson, a spokesman for the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.
"The playhouse is one of the most popular things" at Waveland, he said. "Often there are dozens of children either around it or in it every day."
Last month, when the playhouse was shown in the Herald-Leader, Oneida Cassity said she started to reminisce again.
"It's remembering those things your parents did for you," she said.