the village.



the old mill, a boarding house, the glass lake, the stone bridge,

santa and his team, pine cone evergreens and the christmas tree

at my cottage 2016

once again

i was so excited to put out

 the remaining pieces

of the tiny village that my irish grandfather built

way back in the depression

when had become an american citizen

he was an architect by trade

as was his father

 he built this village by hand to exact scale


tiny stones


little sticks


heavy papers


incredible attention to every detail

all built

to share with us at the family christmas

i have very early and very fond mémories

of it placed on a big white board

with penciled in numbers for placement

so that every piece was in its place

beneath our christmas tree

with  lights installed underneath

 each building lit up inside

when it got dark outside

 a train ran around the village

it was covered in sparkly cotton snow

 it was so wonderful

i thought it would come to life at christmastime forever

 then it was lost for a long, long while

 i didn’t see it anymore


one day i saw its box out by the curb

waiting to go out with the trash

  during a very bad divorce between my parents

i would recognize its box anywhere

 i was lucky that i rescued it just in time

 only a few buildings and a few accessories remained intact

my siblings and i divided up what was salvageable

now i love to set up my own little section of his village each year

i think of how magical it was to see it all together as a child

i wonder what inspired him to create this wonderful village

i wonder where he got the ideas for each building

 i wonder how many buildings there were once upon a time

one of my buildings has the number 9 written inside in pencil

in my ‘umpa’s’  very neat and precise handwriting

 i wish i knew more of the story of the village

i wish i could ask him

no one remains who knows these answers


a couple of old photographs of parts of the village that i found in the original box


“i call architecture frozen music.”

-johann wolfgang von goethe

64 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on Barb Taub and commented:
    Some years ago, my friend Margaret (landlady of the 1000-year-old castle where we ex-pat Americans were thrilled to rent one tower) took me on a tour of her beloved Durham Cathedral. I asked her why the UNESCO World Heritage site’s spectacular carvings and sculptures had never been restored after 3000 Scottish prisoners (held there by Cromwell in 1650) destroyed almost everything within their reach. Margaret told me that all of the cathedral’s history—good and bad—was part of their heritage, and it was important to understanding who they are today.

    I was reminded of Margaret’s words when I read KSBETH’s moving post. The things that link us to our past and our identity include both good things and bad, but preserving them helps us to understand who we are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not only does this preserve the wonder and beauty of the old architect’s original creation, but, as a bonus,
    the account is quite skillfully written, with an intricate balance in tone and affection and all the right words. Thank you for sharing this memory and thank you for sharing this lovely piece of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You found a piece of you history, how wonderful. I wonder if from the beautiful photos you could have some of the village duplicated. Wouldn’t that be a treasure! Even if you can’t or don’t you are lovingly keeping your grandfathers art where it counts most. In the family. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and spend a Happy New Year filled with love and joy. :o)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. How blessed you are to discover these family heirlooms. Your grandfather was quite an amazing artist. It’s a shame that you cannot find the answers to these questions. Do you have any elderly relatives that might have some information for you? Poignant story of wonderful historical Christmas gifts for you and your siblings.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What a poignant story. I am so thankful you rescued it and are able to enjoy all the memories and associations with your grandfather. That is beautiful. My husband is an architect and he has collected many Dicken’s Village pieces and spends one to two days building mountains and valleys for all of it. He did build mangers for each of our children out of the wood from a childhood tree house and various mosses and weeds from our land. One of our sons went through a bitter divorce and his ex-wife destroyed the manger. So much love and hurt and anger summed up in one thing. A story in itself. Thanks for sharing this. Love the pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • how wonderful. and sad. it’s a shame that people choose to take out their unhappiness on things that mean so much to others, but such is life. we all do the best we can –


  6. This is such a sweet part of the village and I look at the black and white photographs thinking how nice if you had been able to save it all. No regrets, except being able to ask your dear “umpa” more about it. . . ❤
    I know your Christmas was extra special but will wish you the happiest of new years, Beth. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, Beth, this is wonderful–bittersweet and touching. Miniatures fascinate me, and the story behind this is like an excerpt from a page-turner novel. Thank you, and Merry Christmas, dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yes, isn’t that such a loss? my grandfather died when i was young and i thought that he and the village would always be there. i didn’t yet understand that everything in life is fluid. everyone else remaining, who knew anything about it, my father, mother and grandmother, are now gone and much of the story is lost.

      all the best to you too in the coming year )

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Very magical and lovely little village your grandfather made. I remember how fun it was to play with these as a child, and I still love them as an adult. The old photographs are awesome too.

    Liked by 1 person

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