De-Stress With a Little Crafting From 1881 — Make Your Own Brooklyn Building

Photo by Susan De Vries

    by

    Looking for a way to relieve some stress and keep your fingers busy this week? We uncovered a Brooklyn-style craft from the 19th century — vintage plans for constructing a miniature paper model of Plymouth Church on Orange Street in Brooklyn Heights.

    brooklyn building craft plymouth church 57 orange street

    Instructions for building a paper model of Plymouth Church. Plans via Library of Congress

    In 1881, R.T. Sperry, a designer of advertising novelties, produced this five-sheet set of plans with construction tips for creating a very detailed model of the church. The building, designed in 1849 by architect Joseph C. Wells, was just over 30 years old when Sperry produced his plans. Plymouth’s most famous preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, was still in the pulpit. The church was a hotbed of abolitionist activity in the 1850s and it would still have been a familiar landmark to Brooklynites of the 1880s.

    brooklyn building craft plymouth church 57 orange street

    Paper cutout of Plymouth Church. Plans via Library of Congress

    You can find the model here via the Library of Congress and print it out.

    While Sperry’s instructions on preparing mucilage as the adhesive are thankfully no longer necessary, his obsessive labelling of the various bits and pieces does help in the assembly. Complicated folding and number matching is required.

    brooklyn building craft plymouth church 57 orange street

    Photo by Susan De Vries

    Sperry didn’t shirk on the details — a delicate touch is needed to assembly the cornice on the tower and the tiny stone steps up to the entrance. If you manage to finish the complicated model, Sperry thoughtfully included a short history of the church which he instructed should be pasted on the bottom of the model.

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