FINDLAY - An intricately crafted model of Waterville's well-known Columbian House will be unveiled this weekend at its new home - in Findlay.
Clayton "Bud" and Jean Ziegler of Waterville, who built the 1/12-scale miniature, have donated the model of Waterville's oldest building to the Hancock Historical Museum, where it will be a permanent display. Since its completion in 1997, the miniature has only been seen by visitors to the couple's River Road home.
"They wanted to find a place - a home - for it where they thought it was going to be safe and appreciated and seen," said Paulette Weiser, curator of the historical museum.
The Zieglers are members and avid supporters of the Waterville Historical Society, but they said they decided on the Findlay museum because Waterville does not have a museum with regular hours for the public or the kind of security and climate-control systems they felt were needed for the elaborate miniature.
And the yellow clapboard inn built in 1828 by Waterville's founding father John Pray does have a tie to Findlay.
The Arnold family, which owned the Columbian House from 1943 to 1993, was from Findlay. Ethel Arnold, whose homestead was across the street from the Hancock Historical Museum, is credited with bringing the Columbian House back to life as a popular restaurant after it sat vacant during the 1930s and '40s.
"We used to eat there a lot," said Mrs. Ziegler, who was born in Findlay. "There were plans hanging on the wall. Bud decided he wanted to try to get the plans and build it because we loved it so much."
A chance meeting with a miniature enthusiast from Findlay last year prompted the Zieglers' offer to donate the model to the historical museum.
The Zieglers were planning to downsize to a condominium when they met Jerry and Anne Sheaffer of Findlay at a miniature show in Toledo.
They invited the Sheaffers to see their model of the Columbian House, and Mrs. Sheaffer brought the idea to the historical museum.
Ms. Weiser admitted she and museum director Sue Tucker were initially a bit apprehensive.
"My first thought was, the Columbian House? That's in Waterville. It ought to stay there," Ms. Weiser said. "We just weren't sure this was the right place for it and that we had the space for it."
Then they went to the Zieglers' home and saw it.
"We walked in and he turned the lights on and our jaws dropped," Ms. Weiser recalled.
Each room of the three-story inn is furnished down to the smallest of details, including dentures on the nightstand, a mouse in a trap, and menus reproduced to a twelfth of their original size.
"It's so phenomenal. There are cobwebs," Ms. Weiser said peering into one of the rooms. "It's just unreal."
The model will be unveiled for the historical museum's Christmas Open House from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the museum, 422 West Sandusky St. At 2 p.m. Sunday, Mr. Ziegler will give a slide show on the construction of the miniature.
Contact Jennifer Feehan