Kellogg’s Dolls’ Owner: I’m Being Evicted

By Danny Schrafel

dschrafel@longislandergroup.com

Sonia Kellogg, who has operated Kellogg’s Dolls’ Houses in Cold Spring Harbor since her husband Ned died seven years ago, is facing the prospect of being evicted from her workshop on Main Street.

Sonia Kellogg, who has operated Kellogg’s Dolls’ Houses in Cold Spring Harbor since her husband Ned died seven years ago, is facing the prospect of being evicted from her workshop on Main Street.

For the last 32 years, the Kellogg family’s renowned doll-making shop has been a fixture on Main Street in Cold Spring Harbor. But those days may soon come to an end. 

Long Island restaurant magnates Lessing’s, owners of the neighboring Sandbar restaurant under development, are poised to buy the land at 49 Main St.

On Monday, Sonia Kellogg said she was told by her landlord that she would be soon served with eviction papers, and that she had until the end of August to leave.

It couldn’t come at a worse time, Kellogg said. Kellogg’s Dolls’ Houses is heading into the prime revenue period of the year, and she doesn’t have the resources to move or rent a new store.

“I can’t believe I’m living this nightmare. I cannot believe this,” she said. “All I ask for is time, and Lessing wants me out immediately.”  

Mark Lessing, owner of the Sand Bar and now the Kellogg’s property, said in an email that he has “no plans” as of yet for the property or the circa-1850 structure that stands there. Asked specifically about Kellogg’s pending eviction, he did not respond by press time Wednesday. 

Kellogg said she’s endured quite a bit next door to the development – noise, dust, traffic and having the view of her shop while driving westbound on Route 25A obscured by the new restaurant building. But she stuck it out with hopes that a third downtown restaurant would bring new business to Cold Spring Harbor’s quaint historic village. But, if the eviction comes to pass, she won’t be there to enjoy the boom.

Dollhouse making has been the Kellogg family trade for nearly four decades, she said. 

After her late husband, Ned, sold his dry-cleaning business in Manhattan, the Kelloggs started migrating east with hopes of raising a family in suburbia. They first settled in Little Neck, Queens, where they launched the Kellogg Doll Houses business in 1977. Initially, Ned Kellogg sold commercially-manufactured doll houses, but started making his own after growing displeased with the quality.

“He just got better and better. He became a master. He could do any architecture just by looking at it,” Sonia said. “He was able to look at structures, draw them out, restore houses that are in terrible disrepair and make them beautiful.” 

Ned made dollhouses there for seven years until the building he worked in was torn down; then the family headed further east to Huntington, where he set up shop on Route 25A in 1983. 

“It’s been a fixture on Long Island for all these years,” Sonia said.

Over the years, the master imparted some of his knowledge to his life partner, a woman who became his dollhouse apprentice in a sense. Much of that knowledge was unlocked when she took the helm after Ned Kellogg died seven years ago following a lengthy battle with cancer. 

“People have been very kind. They gave me a chance to grow and learn my craft,” she said.

During those years, Ned’s knowledge of the finer points of dollhouse craft transferred to his wife almost symbiotically – without her even knowing it at the time.

“He taught me so much. I just close my eyes and remember things,” she said. “I evidently have the ability to do it, which I never knew.”

Now, with a backlog of new orders and repair jobs in the hopper, Kellogg said that if she’s forced to move, it could be curtains for the business.

“I have no idea what I’m going to do,” Kellogg said.