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Park Rapids woman creates a miniature downtown Main street

Park Rapids resident Paulette Von Behren has created a miniature replica of the third block of downtown Main Avenue.1 / 2
Paulette Von Behren displays the miniature business replicas in her living room. Above, she added plenty of detail to Fuller's Gun & Pawn and the Olde Liberty Shoppe.2 / 2

Miniature dollhouse making has always been a hobby for Paulette Von Behren and recently she has added making miniature building replicas to her repertoire.

Von Behren belonged to a miniature club in the 1980s and continued with her projects long after that group met.

"Each of the granddaughters got a dollhouse," Von Behren said. "They got bigger as I went along."

She has four granddaughters and one grandson. Her grandson got a barn instead of a dollhouse.

The only limiting factor for Von Behren's hobby is space. Her two-bedroom Park Rapids apartment is getting full already with dollhouses and the downtown replicas filling each room.

"I love it," she said. "If I had more room, I'd keep making more and more."

Some of the dollhouses were made from patterns but Von Behren made some modeled on homes she lived in when she grew up.

"I changed them a little bit but went off of photos and memories," she said.

Recently Von Behren completed a dollhouse pattern she had purchased in 1989. Some of the items in the dollhouses are purchased and Von Behren makes others.

"The doors and windows I bought and the siding and carpet," she said. "I made a lot of the furniture out of willow sticks."

One of Von Behren's favorite dollhouses is her replica of the home she lived in when she graduated from high school. It opens from the top to show the inside of the house. "Mom and Dad and six of us kids lived in that two-bedroom house," Von Behren said with a laugh. "It was cozy."

Many of the houses she makes from patterns are open on one side.

"I created the house I was born in by looking up old black and white photos," she said. "This one slides open."

Some of the dollhouses have taken Von Behren five or six months to complete. She has more time now that she's retired.

The details are fun to add to the houses, she said.

"I use scrapbook paper for the wall paper and sand paper for the roof," Von Behren said.

She has other hobbies as well, including painting and crocheting.

"I just like to do things with my hands," she said.

The idea for creating replicas of the third block of downtown Park Rapids just came to her one day as she was drawing.

"I started with Ben Franklin, then continued with Monika's," she said. "I just kept going."

Now both sides of the third block are nearly complete. They are made out of foam board and are displayed in Von Behren's living room.

"I'd love to have them displayed somewhere for others to see," she said.

However, in talking with others, no one has room to set up the display, she said.

Von Behren is considering placing the miniature buildings on shelves along the walls of her living room.

"It's been fun," she said of her hobby. "If only I had more room."

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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