Model Maker of Historical Homes
PAUL ADDISON WALKER
Southwest Virginia Museum
 


Paul Addison Walker
was born in Newport, which is near Blacksburg, Virginia, on May 15, 1900. He was one of three children of the late John William and Addie Sue Keffer Walker. Paul married Mildred Zell on March 13, 1926 and they lived most of their lives in Giles County, Virginia.

Paul and Mildred, however, lived in Big Stone Gap, Virginia from 1935 to 1942 when Paul was in the Lonesome Pine Civilian Conservation Corp. Congressman C. Bascom Slemp recognized Paul's talents and craftsmanship and commissioned him to make miniatures of historic buildings in Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Paul kept a work record of the time and other details of the work on these historical miniatures in a small notebook. This ledger was used by C. Bascom Slemp when paying Paul for his work. Paul was paid 50 cents per hour for his work on the models. The scale for the models was 1/2 inch to 1 foot. For the purpose of reproducing the houses, the original buildings were accurately measured. The models show the evolution of homes from the one-room log cabin to two-story frame or brick houses.

In 1942, Paul and Mildred moved back to Newport and he went to work in the Radford Army Ammunition Plant and remained there until his retirement in 1965. Paul continued his wood-working hobby throughout his life. On the morning of May 13, 1996, just two days before he would have turned 96 years old, Paul A. Walker passed away. He was survived by his wife, Mildred, son Paul, Jr., three grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

About the Model Homes

David Pierce Home - Wythe County, Virginia

Built around 1770 at Popular Camp, Wythe County, Virginia, this was one of the first houses in this county. It is located on the New River. David Pierce built an iron forge and made one of the largest fortunes in the area at the time. He was a direct descendent of the Grahams, of Grahams Forge, Virginia, and Crocketts of Wythe County.

Paul made the model from November 5 to December 12, 1941 and it took him about 107 hours to complete.

Lee Log Cabin, Coeburn, Virginia

This model was made by Mr. Walker in April of 1939. He was paid $24.75 for his 49-1/2 hours of work. In the diary that Paul kept of his work, he mentions that the house was located in the South side of Coeburn, but unfortunately no other entry is made in the diary.

Fort Witten, Tazwell County, Virginia

Thomas Witten, assisted by his sons and neighbors in the early 1770s, built a fort for protection against Indians at Crab Orchard on the Clinch River in Tazewell, Virginia. The fort was composed of the main house, or dwelling, two blockhouses used for observation, a stockade, and an out-building. The original buildings burned, and were later reproduced by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Paul spent 36 hours between October 15 and October 29, 1940, on the replica.

 

 

 

Special Thanks

 

The Southwest Virginia Museum would like to thank Mrs. Mildred Walker, Paul Walker, Jr., David Walker, Doug Martin and Tony Williams for their willingness to loan many of the photographs which were at one time on display in the museum, and for their willingness to share Paul's life story with us. We would also like to thank the Southwest Virginia, Lee County, Tazewell County, and Wythe County Historical Societies, as well as the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for all their valuable assistance while researching the homes.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

 

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The Southwest Virginia Museum is a member of the American
Association of Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, and the Virginia Association of Museums.


About the Model Houses
Rees Bowen Home
"Maindenfern" - Tazwell County Virginia

Moses and Rebecca Bowen left Wales and settled in Pennsylvania where they lived and were buried. At least six of their children moved to Southwest Virginia where descendants of at least three of them, Rees, Arthur, and William are now living. The three brothers settled on the Clinch River about 1770. William and Arthur were not married when they moved, however, Rees married Louisa Smith, formerly o Rockingham County, Virginia. In Colonel Pendleton's book, The History of Tazewell County, Rees Bowen's name is spelled "Rees" instead of the more common spelling "Reece," which is the more common spelling "Reece," which is the more generally accepted spelling in the Bowen Family. The three sons, William, Rees, and Arthur, were all members of Captain William Russell's company of militia and all of them distinguished themselves in defending the border against Indians, serving as rangers. When Rees was killed in the Battle of King's Mountain, he left his widow with eight children, three boys and five girls.

The original house was built as a cabin around 1770 by Rees, and later it was enlarged as a frame house by his son in 1800. General Rees Tate Bowen added the front section of the home in 1883. The house served as Maiden Spring Fort in 1774, hosted troops during the Civil War, and has provided a home to seven generations of one family.

Paul was from March until July 1940 making the model, and it took him 132 hours to complete.

Dickenson or Melburn Home - Lee County Virginia
 

This house is known as the Dickenson Mansion or the Melbourne home, though it was built by Judge Benjamin Martin of Lee County. It was built around 1840 and was one of the first brick houses erected in that county. Benjamin Dickenson was the first owner of the house, however, the Dickenson family died young. Soon after, Andrew Melburn bought the house and resided there for close to fifty years. During the Civil War, the Union Army used the house as headquarters and a hospital.

Paul's work on the model was from August 9 - November 11, 1938.

J. M. Preston Home - Seven Mile Ford from Virginia

This house is known as the Dickenson Mansion or the Melbourne home, though it was built by Judge Benjamin Martin of Lee County. It was built around 1840 and was one of the first brick houses erected in that county. Benjamin Dickenson was the first owner of the house, however, the Dickenson family died young. Soon after, Andrew Melburn bought the house and resided there for close to fifty years. During the Civil War, the Union Army used the house as headquarters and a hospital.

Paul's work on the model was from August 9 - November 11, 1938.