Local woman brings the world to Carson City
July 2, 2002
When Janie McCorkle wants to see the world, she just steps into her Carson City back yard.
In just seconds she can go from drinking sake in Hong Kong to beer in an Irish pub. And if she is still not satisfied, Italy is just a few feet away down a cobblestone road.
Instead of flying all over the world, McCorkle decided to bring the world to her home at 217 Tacoma St.
After growing up in San Francisco, she said she missed the diverse culture when she moved to Carson City. So for the past 13 years, she has been creating her own Chinatown and Little Italy in her home.
Seven countries are represented inside and around her house. There’s a Caribbean bar, an Italian kitchen and a little bit of French everywhere.
She calls it “Ma Petit Maison,” and even though some passersby may think it’s a real restaurant, McCorkle said it is just a fantasy, pretend one.
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“It’s playing house,” she said with a smile.
In the back yard, she has three mini-restaurants set up in little sheds. Each one is connected by cobblestone roads which are lined with roses of all different colors.
McCorkle said she uses the back yard to entertain neighbors and friends. And sometimes, she and her husband just enjoy it.
“We go out on the town in the back yard,” she said.
But the house is not just for her own personal use. McCorkle said she hopes to hold carnivals and events for children’s charities.
She has tea parties for neighborhood girls every year, and other events for neighborhood boys. But when she finishes her back yard, she wants to help terminally ill and needy children.
“Children should be children again,” she said. “I want to give them a little happiness in their life. That’s my dream.”
McCorkle began working full time on her house when she was forced to quit work because of her arthritis 10 years ago.
But, she said, she had always dreamed of having a house like this. When she was a child, living in San Francisco, she said she used to wish she could live in the wax museum.
Now, she almost does. Although they are not made of wax, McCorkle shares her home with about a dozen statues, including Francois, the doorman.
The statue, around 5 feet tall, greets everyone as they step into the house.
“I’m not nuts,” she said with a laugh. “Just eccentric.”
McCorkle said she has always been fascinated with other cultures. As a child, she taught herself to speak foreign languages. Today, she speaks six of them. She also taught herself to cook when she was 10. She makes dishes from across the world, ranging from Russian to Irish to Jamaican.
Although there is not one plain wall or corner in her home, McCorkle said it seems normal to her.
“If you like the Taj Mahal, just build it on a smaller scale,” she said.
She said she never wants to stop decorating her home. She keeps herself busy year round decorating for the seasons.
McCorkle also has more plans for her back yard. There is one empty corner, which McCorkle said will become Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, complete with a life-size pirate. On the other side of the yard, she said she would like to build a stage for bands to play at her charity events.
By next spring at the latest, she said it would be ready. But McCorkle said she never wants to be finished.
“It’s my passion,” she said. “In life, you have to do what makes you happy.”