Village of miniature houses at Bloedel Reserve charms

Zane Decker, 3, Avery Decker, 5, and their grandmother, Bloedell docent Joan Spencer, marvel at the miniature houses on display at Bloedel Reserve Dec. 4-31.  - Connie Mears/Staff Photos
Zane Decker, 3, Avery Decker, 5, and their grandmother, Bloedell docent Joan Spencer, marvel at the miniature houses on display at Bloedel Reserve Dec. 4-31.
— image credit: Connie Mears/Staff Photos

The Bloedel Reserve hosts an amazing display of hand-crafted miniature houses from Dec. 4-31. Created by a Bloedel Reserve volunteer, the village of large model houses is encircled by model trains.

Some of the village’s buildings were inspired by ancient houses in France, and some are pure fantasy – like the towering Castle (standing over six feet tall), the Cookie Factory (staffed by teddy bears), a bakery, a bistro, and gingerbread house. Each building is meticulously decorated and furnished with tiny, perfectly “to scale” furniture. Most of the models were created using recycled materials.

The model houses and railroad trains will be exhibited in the main Visitor Center of The Reserve through December 31. The Reserve is open to the public from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. (Closed on Christmas Day.)

Half-price admission day is Saturday, December 4.

In addition to the Holiday Village and Model Railroad Exhibit, the Reserve’s Visitor Center and Gate House will be lavishly decorated with huge evergreen trees and beautiful holiday lights.

The eleven miniature houses of the Holiday Village are the creation of Dwight Shappell, former owner of Dwight’s Flowers on Bainbridge and former manager of the florist shop at Junkoh Harui’s Town and Country Nursery. Dwight has been a volunteer tour guide at Bloedel Reserve for 13 years. Working with donated and recycled materials collected from the many places where he has lived for the past 40 years (including France and Hawaii), Shappell has fashioned hundreds of miniature, fully functional chests of drawers, upholstered sofas and chairs. The more than 75 rooms of the models are decorated with rugs, carpets, and parquet floors. Dwight estimates that he has spent more than 10,000 hours creating the houses and their furnishings.


Dave Durfee, a resident of Bremerton, a longtime Bloedel Reserve volunteer and an avid model railroad enthusiast, secured the model railroad trains for the exhibit. One of the trains is a special “Candy Train” that dispenses small sweet treats.

For more information visit,/a> or call (206) 842-7631.

The houses were created by hand by Dwight Shappell, former owner of Dwight's Bainbridge Island Flowers. The exhibit is free with admission to Bloedel and Dec. 4 is half-price. Children under 13 are now admitted free.

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