Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Traverse City Michigan Miniature Village! Folk Art Make-work for Unemployed Folk

I hate to even think "fall" but for many in Michigan, fall means Traverse City. More exactly, the fall foliage on the way there and back. One of the most pleasant places in the country, and at one time home of the famous miniature city!

During the depression (the great one, not the current one) the Traverse City Opera House, still standing, became home for an unusual WPA project. Traverse City mayor "Con" Foster, who was formerly a circus promoter, thought up the original project to find work for carpenters who couldn't find any building the real thing, so Roosevelt's WPA coughed up the dough! Workers were hired to create miniature models of prominent actual buildings in the city. The intricate, perfect models were then installed in Clinch Park. At one time, there were over 100 buildings.

Weather, for which Traverse City is also known, took a toll on tiny town and it was put under wraps in 1973. A local businessman eventually bought the models, and when he passed away the whole collection was willed to the Opera House, where portions of it are displayed. Hopefully, one day the entire collection will be restored and assembled again.

Amateur Snapshots of the Traverse City Miniature City 1940. (Note walkway in the shape of states, the Michigan Mitten prominent) Collection Jim Linderman


  1. I well remember visiting Traverse City with my parents in the sixties and seeing this miniature village. I never knew the story behind it though; thank you.

  2. Traverse City only meant one thing to me when I was a little Michigander in the '60s: Cherry Festival!!


    We never went in the fall--always in cherry season. But I don't remember the miniature village. Of course, it was well over 40 years ago that I last was there...

  3. I have photos of the miniature village from about 1946. There were also peacocks that walked among the buildings.