Politics & Government

Doll display of Kentucky’s first ladies lacks one for Glenna Bevin

The Kentucky State Capitol has a display of miniature dolls that represent each first lady of Kentucky with a fashionable dress from the historical period. The doll representing Kentucky’s current first lady, Glenna Bevin, is not on display yet.
The Kentucky State Capitol has a display of miniature dolls that represent each first lady of Kentucky with a fashionable dress from the historical period. The doll representing Kentucky’s current first lady, Glenna Bevin, is not on display yet. Staff file photo

It’s been almost a year since Glenna Bevin became Kentucky’s first lady, and there’s still no miniature doll of her in one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Capitol.

Usually the doll of a new Kentucky first lady is placed in public display along with the others within a few months after taking office. Each doll is adorned in fabric matching the first lady’s Inaugural Ball gown.

Four large, background-lighted, glass-enclosed cabinets just east of the Rotunda on the first floor of the Capitol house the dolls that thousands of tourists view each year.

But the Glenna Bevin doll has not yet joined the ranks of the other 18-inch, French-fashion dolls of first ladies that go back to the state’s first first lady, Susannah Hart Shelby, wife of Gov. Isaac Shelby, in 1792.

Where, oh where, is the Glenna Bevin doll?

There have been some problems, Susette Redwine of Morehead, president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Kentucky,said Monday. The group, which sponsors the doll display, changed its name a few years ago from the Kentucky Federation of Women’s Clubs.

The new doll was presented to Glenna Bevin, wife of Gov. Matt Bevin, last spring.

“Overall, she was pleased with the doll but was unhappy that not all of it was OK. She wanted a few things done differently. That’s not unusual for a first lady to offer suggestions,” Redwine said.

She said that Jane Beshear, wife of Gov. Steve Beshear who left office last December, recommended that her doll dress be tighter.

The Bevin doll, Redwine said, had a broken arm and fingers because it was dropped.

It was time-consuming to find the proper compound to match the color of the doll for the new mold, but the material has been found in Mexico, Redwine said.

“It was not as simple as just making a new mold, because we did not have the extra material to get the right color tone,” she said.

Another delay, she said, was due to obtaining the fabric to make the gown for the small doll.

“Usually we ask the first ladies to get X number of extra yards of the fabric for their gowns before they are made, but Mrs. Bevin bought her dress off the rack from a boutique in Louisville, and it was difficult to get the extra fabric for her doll,” Redwine said.

Two members of the state women’s group emphasized Monday that Mrs. Bevin loved the doll she was shown in May.

“I’ve never heard Mrs. Bevin speak of any problems with the doll,” said Susan Alexander of Marion, who was president of the women’s club in May.

“She always was thrilled with it,” said Pat Geveden of Frankfort, who chaired the committee responsible for the Bevin doll.

“It was unfortunate the doll was broken and it has taken so long to get the material for the new mold to get the exact tone, but we are on our way,” Geveden said. We hope to have it in the display by January.”

The display of Kentucky’s first ladies in miniature was started in 1971 by Helen Evans, then president of the women’s group. Each doll has a nameplate in front of it, giving her name, dates of birth and death, the official number of the governor’s administration (Bevin’s is the 62nd), name of her husband and the years he was in office.

When a governor served more than one term, the first lady is shown only for the first administration.

There is no doll for the 34th first lady because Gov. William Goebel was a bachelor when he took office on his death bed in 1900.

No doll was made for “first gentleman” Bill Collins, the husband of Kentucky’s only female governor, Martha Layne Collins. She was in office from 1983 to 1987. Hers is the only doll of a governor in the display.

Jack Brammer: 502-227-1198, @BGPolitics

  Comments