Houses of play get days at Galleria

Collection of life-size playhouses on display in Promenade, center of mall
By: Sara Randazzo, The Press-Tribune
-A +A
For the next month and a half, don't be surprised if you hear a child excitedly proclaim, "I'm going to the Roseville Galleria!" with the same enthusiasm they might use for a trip to a theme park. This frenzied fervor is due to Roseville's third Dream, Play, House! exhibit - a collection of six life-size playhouses displayed in the Promenade and center of the mall. The playhouses will be auctioned off at a gala event Sept. 16 to benefit the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Placer County. The creative array of houses, with themes based on the great outdoors, the movie "Shrek," the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants and more, excites children and adults alike. "People react with amazement," said Stephanie Ringey, marketing director for Westfield Galleria at Roseville. "The parents tell me they want to be a kid again and go play." Each playhouse was designed, built and donated by local builders and contributors, and each will be auctioned off with a starting bid of $5,000 at the gala in September. One house, created by Westfield and Unger Construction, will be raffled off along with a 2006 Hyundai. Children of all ages will find something to love in each of the six play structures, which were built with different motivations in mind. Syncon Homes' Executive Project Director Lisa Stiles wanted to be sure their "Kingdom of the Knight" playhouse included as many aspects as possible that children could play with. "We voted on what would really entice the children," she said of their castle-inspired project, which includes an exterior climbing wall, rope ladder and slide as well as an interior filled with play costumes and toys. "The Bridge House" by Home Improvement & Remodeling Magazine and Grendahl Construction is also filled with intricacies that add to the fun. Inspired by a 300-year-old English cottage, the house boasts a turret hideaway, slide, TV and video games and a secret hatch leading to an underground level and tunnels. What started as a side project for Grendahl Construction's George Henley has turned into an emotional and rewarding experience. While setting up Saturday, Henley watched as a young boy began to cry because he found out he couldn't have the playhouse. Henley learned the family had five foster children, each taken from an abusive home. "I realized these children are the very ones who are looking to benefit," he said. "I was struck by the generosity that these people have dedicated their life to these children. "It touched my heart and made this whole thing worthwhile," he said. Others involved expressed similar sentiments. "The charity, the giving that comes together for this event, it's just amazing," Ringey said. Each of the houses is constructed with donated labor and materials, making it difficult to put a price tag on them. "It's actually a MasterCard commercial, because it's priceless," Ringey said. The biennial event started in 2002 and now, six years later, the partnership between the Galleria and the CAPC is still going strong. "What this does for our organization is huge," DeAnne Thorton, executive director for the CAPC, said. "It helps us continue our work to help our families." In 2004, $135,000 was raised for the organization, which is dedicated to the prevention and healing of child abuse. As visitors wandered through the collection of houses, which were also created by Morrison Homes, Lennar, Pulte Homes and Del Webb, their silent awe and wide eyes spoke louder than words. "They get more elaborate every year," said Donna Rennie of Colfax, whose favorite was the pineapple-shaped SpongeBob house. True Netherby of Truckee viewed the playhouses with her daughters Harlee, 4, and newborn Olivia. "She loves them, I think it's pretty hard not to," she said of Harlee's excitement at seeing the houses. To participate in this year's auction, tickets may be purchased for $50 at the Galleria's Concierge Center, 789-7467; at the CAPC office, 772-2272; or at Raffle tickets for the "Island Hideaway" house and Hyundai are $20 each or $40 for three and can be purchased at the above locations. - Sara Randazzo can be reached at