August 31, 2006
Crisp Co.-- Some people like to preserve history with photographs, family Bibles and anything to remember the past. But, one man preserves his personal and community histories with wood and an awful lot of patience.
Some people look forward to the ole grind for all kinds of reasons. "I enjoy bringing back some of the old stuff," says James Allison, as he uses his cordless grinding tool to remove splinters of wood that will become a roofing shingle.
He builds models in an open air workshop that sits under pecan trees. "One of the old churches in Crisp County," says Mr. Allison about the model under construction. The original church long since gone, where only memories remain. "It was built in 1912," says Mr. Allison.
Now, he patiently builds another church just like it, but smaller. A model church under construction with an old newspaper picture serving as a blue print. His unending patience makes it come to life. "Over a thousand pieces in the roof," says Mr. Allison about the individual shingles he has attached so far. "So small can't handle with fingers," says Mr. Allison as he reverently places one on the church's steeple. "They are all glued together."
In his open-air shop, time almost stands still. "I concentrate on what I'm working on," says Mr. Allison who doesn't seem to mind how long it takes him to build any part of the model. He found patience means more than woodworking talent. Mr. Allison started his hobby at home when his wife wanted a model of a light house. And as the old saying goes, the rest is history that sits in the living room.
"This is the first one I built," says Mr. Allison pointing to a white painted house with a rocking chair that sits on the front porch, a model of his boyhood home complete with its green, tin roof. "I bent all the little grooves in that tin there," says Mr. Allison with a smile as he points to the roof.
A church with eight sides and two doors sits close-by, built by a man who enjoys a challenge, such as a model of the old Suwannee Hotel. "It took me about 200 hours to build it," says Mr. Allison because of the many windows and doors, so many that he lost count. "A heap of them," says Mr. Allison, who enjoys pointing out the historical accuracy of his models. "And it's got a column in it right here," says Mr. Allison pointing to a small column in an arch over the main door of a model of the local library.
He tries his best to build his models to scale, where he uses the height of windows and people, even bicycles to get the right building proportions. In his living room sits models of a train station, a baseball park, a school and a sanatorium, and where architectural history repeats itself on a small scale.