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UnReal Estate open house at library

Spectators look over Marianna Wilkenson’s farmhouse at Chetco Community Public Library. The Pilot/Arwyn Rice
3 bdrm, 1 ba, 2-story farmhouse with finished attic. Fully furnished, big wraparound porch to relax on warm summer evenings. Farm stand, large garden, tractor storage, chicken coop and animal pens included. Pets and farm animals OK.


Marianna Wilkenson’s  two-story farmhouse is like something out of an old Lassie movie.

The classic Midwestern style farmhouse is full of 1940s era  furniture, features a wide porch with comfortable chairs and the property includes a small vegetable stand for Wilkenson’s extensive garden.

 

Like any good farm, cats are seemingly everywhere.

“I just can’t resist the cats,” Wilkenson said. “They’re all so adorable.”

Passers-by inevitably stop to enjoy the bucolic scene for awhile before moving along with their modern business. Many might dream of living in Wilkenson’s cozy house.

However, there is one problem. People more than 6 inches tall would not be very comfortable.

The miniature farm, built in 1/12 scale,  won first prize at the Curry County Fair in 2009, and has been on display at the Gold Beach and Port Orford libraries since the fair ended.

It arrived in Brookings Sunday for a month-long display at the Chetco Community Public Library at 405 Alder Street.

“We thought it would be nice if people here in south county could see it too, Brookings librarian Susana Fernandez said.

Wilkenson began building miniatures in the 1970s, then took a 30 year vacation from her hobby after her home-made attempts at creating miniatures didn’t meet her own exacting standards.

Wilkenson started anew in 2006, but had barely begun when she shattered her arm and wrist in an accident involving a very frisky dog.

Seven surgeries later her hand had regained enough motion to continue her project. By then she had plenty of ideas for her farm.

“I had a lot of time to think,” she said.

She returned to her self-imposed task in fall of  2008  and finished it just in time for the 2009 fair, she said.

The painstaking work was therapy for her mind and hand as she sculpted the stonework for the house, using a template and Dremel.

Wilkenson used 17 different colors to produce a convincing stone appearance, she said.

The hobby creates huge demands of time and effort and it is also a very expensive hobby, she said.

Wilkenson declined to speculate how much the entire project cost.

“That is something my husband will never know,” she said.

The details of the farm are fun to find. There are rabbits in her garden eating the lettuce, and the children left the gate to the baby animal pen open and a piglet is escaping.

Several sheep escaped their field and the shepherd dog is more worried about “watering the bushes” than herding them back to their pen.

Some details need to be searched for. One cat can only be seen in a mirror. Miniaturized, framed 1940s-era  photographs in the house are of her own family. Many feature Wilkenson and her siblings.

Others are humorous, such as the doll house, nearly a match to the larger home, in the children's bedroom.

The farm doesn’t stop at the fence that encloses the buildings, Wilkenson said. A gate in one fence hints at the fields that lay beyond the protective plexiglas case.

“You will have to use your imagination,” she said.

Her work has touched a chord. Wilkenson has been approached with many residents “of a certain age” who thanked her for bringing back happy memories.

Children peer into the  tiny kitchen and exclaim over the lack of a microwave and other modern cooking tools, she said.

“That is why I created it. To me this is Americana,” Wilkenson said. “It is what we used to be.”

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