…And then there was another one and another one and another one.
That’s how Marblehead resident Chicki Curtis, in part, tells the story behind her sprawling miniature replica of Marblehead, depicting the town blanketed in white powder during the holiday season. The mini village, now on display in the Gerry 5, features several local landmarks and hundreds of little pieces – trees, animals, children, cars – to capture Marblehead at the turn of the 20th century.
“We lost several pieces the last couple of years somehow, but if you count everything there is somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 individual pieces,” said Curtis. “If you count the buildings themselves, it’s close to 100.”
And they are all here: Abbot Hall, the Old Town House, the Marblehead Light, Old Burial Hill, the Driftwood, Old North Church around a model train.
“It takes four or five days to set up and a couple more to take down,” said Curtis.
Curtis and her late husband, Stu Curtis, built the miniature village over many, many years. Stu Curtis, who owned Curtis Fence Co., did the electrical wiring, so they could illuminate their miniature streets and buildings.
“It started with like one building back in the mid 1970s. The kids gave it to me as a birthday gift,”said Chicki Curtis. “And so it started: Every Christmas or birthday, it was like I got another building. And then I painted trees and streets to put on it, and so it just gradually grew and grew.”
The village scene tells little stories: A fisherman wrangling in a stubborn fish. Skaters on Redd’s Pond. ‘Headers trudging through the winter snow, walking their dogs. Carolers singing outside the Old Town House.
When the couple moved to Englewood, Florida, they set the village up during the holiday season every year. It drew crowds, and the press even wrote about it.
“When [Stu] fell and broke his neck, we came back up here in 2011,” Curtis said. “We donated [the village] to the Gerry 5 because he’d been a member there forever.”
Since that donation, the Marblehead club has set up the miniature village annually to coincide with a toy drive.
“It’s become a great annual tradition,” said the club’s manager, Arthur Dodge, in a phone interview. “We open the Gerry 5 for it, and the kiddos love it.”
Katie Van Dorpe called the display “spectacular.”
“Witnessed kids and adults enjoying it so much,” she told the Marblehead Current. “Not sure a lot of people are aware of it and are missing out.”
Dodge said the public is invited to see the Marblehead village into the new year. The Gerry 5 is located at 210 Beacon St.; check https://gerry5.com/ before heading out the front door.