George Drexler thinks small. He builds perfect replicas of historical, classical and modern...
George Drexler thinks small. He builds perfect replicas of historical, classical and modern architecture to 1/12 scale using mostly authentic construction materials. No mere dollhouses, the Drexler Classics. They’re more doll-architecture. Some clients hire him to reconstruct their childhood home or favorite house. Two have actually been for children. He builds them all: Prairie Box, 17th-century French Provincial, Georgetown Colonial, Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian, Italian Villa, Chicago Townhouse, Queen Ann, San Francisco row Italianate. About 20 so far. Drexler, 81, works only on commission and can require two years to complete one house. He calls what he does “the art of architecture.”
Q: What’s the difference between the big build and the little build?
A: I do everything except building permits, interim financing, and I don’t need a sales crew. But most materials I use are materials used in the real house like concrete, brick, metal flashing for roofs and windows, metal railings on the exterior, real oak tread on stairways.
Q: Do you use tiny tools?
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A: I use big tools down to small tools, like small screwdrivers, saw blades. In putting electrical things in they can be pretty small, so I have very small pliers, brads.
Q: For the architectural integrity you seek, how much of your time is spent in research?
A: Anywhere from 30 to 60 days. I use the library, my own library on architecture, photographs. Sometimes I work from actual plans. Will a client let me loose? If they will, I go all the way for accuracy.
Q: Geez, you do teeny-tiny wainscoting, corbels, gutters, oak floors, shake roofs, crown molding, crystal chandeliers, garage-door openers, 9,000 real bricks in the Wright Usonian! Is there no detail too small?
A: No, there isn’t.
Q: How much do these go for?
A: Engineering and building a shell can run anywhere from $400 to $1,000. Beyond that it can run thousands of dollars more.
Q: You don’t know of any miniature realtors do you?
A: I do remember several years ago seeing in one of the magazines somebody had an ad for listing and selling miniature houses.
Q: Miniature landscapers?
A: Yes. I have them come here and do the work.
Q: I have to ask, do the tiny toilets flush?
A: No, they don’t. However, electrically everything works.