TIPP CITY — Though Tipp City resident Gail Stickelman retired from his career as an engineer over 20 years ago, he still enjoys architecture and the process of building. It’s this continued interest which led him to construct a miniature replica of downtown Troy.
Stickelman, 86, completed the 1/8-inch scale model of the Troy Public Square this past February, sharing it with Miami Valley Today in early March. He said it took him about four months to complete.
Since he was a child, Stickelman said, he has enjoyed creating and building.
“I’ve done this type of thing all my life,” he said. “When I was 6 years old, I broke my leg and was sitting in a rocking chair all the time, so my mother bought me a board, some paper, glue and stuff like that, so I started making things.”
Stickelman worked for 40 years at Process Equipment Company, in Tipp City, until his retirement. Though the 3D model of downtown Troy is his most recent project of its kind, it is not his only.
“A couple years ago, I had done about three blocks of downtown Tipp City and I enjoy doing that — the small buildings and laying everything out,” he said. “I lost count at 100, but I’ve probably done about 135 building (replicas), including court houses, several of which I’ve given to the historical society.”
Stickelman’s projects have also included models of homes, including the Wright brothers’ home in Kettering, the old school building in Tipp City, First United Methodist Church in Troy, the White House, the Ohio Statehouse, the U.S. Capitol, and Fort Piqua Plaza.
The process, Stickelman said, is the best part of creating the models.
“Part of the fun for me is figuring out how to do things,” he said. “The colors aren’t perfect — with me at my age and having vision in only one eye — but I do the best I can and the results were reasonable.
Stickelman said he used household items, like wire, spackle, plexiglass, modeling clay, and vinyl tape, along with several purchased items. He said Amazon came in handy with regard to finding tools and small objects for his projects.
As for the planning, Stickelman said he used pictures for reference.
“I took photos of the buildings and I used Google Earth a lot because with the tops of buildings, you can’t just go take photos of them,” he said.
Stickelman said he plans to donate the downtown Troy replica to a local historical museum or to the city itself, but specific plans are still in the works.
“I really enjoyed working on this, and it was one of the better projects in terms of fun,” he said. “When I started, I was thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can do this or not; it’s going to be tough,’ but it wasn’t so bad. You just have to be patient.”