Vampire novelist Anne Rice's doll collection heads to Pa.

WINDBER, Pa. (AP) — The unique doll collection of best-selling author Anne Rice has found a new home in Windber.

Until 2004, Rice's collection of one-of-a-kind dolls filled a three-story former orphanage in New Orleans. She had about 1,000 rare and unique dolls, some made of porcelain and some over 5 feet tall.

When Rice moved to California, she took about 500 of her favorite dolls with her. The other 500 were left to Sue Quiroz, who served as the curator of Rice's doll collection for 15 years.

Quiroz was left to find homes for hundreds of dolls.

They sat in storage and Quiroz sold some and donated others. The upkeep and storage was costing her money, so Quiroz sent out a plea to donate the dolls to somewhere special.

"I think (Rice) will be excited to know her dream has come true to have a doll museum," Quiroz said.

That museum will be in Windber.

Over the weekend, Grand Midway Hotel owner Blair Murphy drove to New Orleans and picked up almost all of Rice's dolls. He plans to display the dolls in the Windber church he bought recently along Graham Avenue.

"I'm a huge Anne Rice fan and I just bought that church and I'm looking for new pieces to put in it. I'm honored to make a permanent home for the collection," he said.

Murphy hasn't even seen all of the dolls or opened all of the boxes yet. He said he came back from New Orleans with 30 refrigerator-sized boxes full of dolls.

"It's like a treasure chest," he said.

Fans of Rice's novels know that some of her dolls made appearances in her writing. A doll-shop owner appears in "Interview with the Vampire" and a doll maker appears in "Taltos."

Quiroz said that Rice started collecting dolls in the mid-1990s and personally selected each doll. Many came from other countries and were special ordered.

"We opened doll boxes a lot," Quiroz said, laughing.

She added that the dolls are not haunted.

"It's kind of haunting to people when they go in to see them and they see so many. Some people are scared of dolls," she said. "We didn't have any hauntings or anything. I was there a lot late at night and gave tours. We never had problems."

Quiroz said she was excited when she heard that Murphy wanted to put the doll collection in a former church for his museum.

"Those are unique as far as buildings go," she said. "I think Anne would like that."

"I think they'll have a good home. They've been in boxes for years, so I think they really need to be out there," Quiroz said. "There's some beautiful dolls there."

Murphy has already planned a grand opening for the museum. From 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Oct. 26, Murphy will host the museum opening with bands, ballroom dancers and a magician. It will also serve as a fundraiser for the Windber Fire Department and Windber Public Library.

"I'm really trying to do something for the community," he said. "This could end up in a university or a city, and this collection will end up in little Windber It's really magical that this was able to happen. I feel the town can be proud of it. This is their collection."

Quiroz said she is happy the dolls ended up with Murphy.

"I know they're going to be happy because they'll be out of their boxes," she said. "And I hope people come to see them."

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Information from: Daily American, http://www.dailyamerican.com

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