MODEL BUILDING Canfield man makes replica of original statehouse
The replica took about eight weeks to complete.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Over the years, Kelley Dean Vannatter has made scale replicas of such buildings as Lanterman's Mill, a historic grist mill in Youngstown's Mill Creek Park, and Harbel Manor, the old home of the rubber magnate Firestone family.
Now, Vannatter, 47, has finished a replica of another historical gem: the first Statehouse in Columbus.
Vannater, an architectural model builder from Canfield, has completed a one-eighth-inch to one-foot scale model of the original Statehouse that was in use from about 1816 to the 1850s when it was destroyed in a fire.
The $2,200 model of the federal-style building is a gift to the state, Vannatter said, and will be on display at the current Statehouse.
"I have a passion for the architecture," Vannatter said in a telephone interview from his home.
"Architecture is my subject and model building is my medium as an artist."
Vannatter said he was inspired to build the model by Ohio's bicentennial celebrations last year and because of an interest in state history.
"I had no idea we had three capitol buildings before the one we have now," Vannatter said.
According to historical accounts, the first Statehouse was in Chillicothe in 1803.
In 1810, Zanesville's citizens, apparently hoping to secure its bid for capital-city status, built a Statehouse and invited the Legislature to move in.
That arrangement lasted until 1812 when state government abandoned the building and returned to Chillicothe while still looking for a spot closer to the state's center, historical accounts say.
The Legislature later chose to locate the capital in Columbus.
The first Statehouse in Columbus, which is the subject of Vannatter's model, was built between 1813 and 1816 and was in use until it was destroyed by fire.
It was built in the federal style, featuring brick construction and a cupola at its top.
"Every kind of architecture has its own beauty, but I would say in the federal style the beauty is in its symmetry," Vannatter said. "You have to be precise."
Using drawings and historical information on the building, Vannatter said he built the model by hand and included details such as imitations of the brick walls, wood-shake shingles and the 28-piece windows of the original structure.
"The model is built like a real building," Vannatter said.
"It's a very time consuming thing, but the final results are superior," said Vannatter. He said the piece took about eight weeks to complete.
Ronald Keller, executive director of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board that runs Capitol Square said the state is pleased to accept Vannatter's gift. It was unveiled at the Statehouse last week.
"It helps tell the story of the property," Keller said.
State Rep. Kenneth A. Carano of Austintown, D-59th, was at the model's unveiling.
"It's very attractive," Carano said. "You have to look at it closely."
The state will build a display stand and house the model in the Statehouse's north lower lobby.
The current Statehouse, built in the Greek Revival style, was opened to state lawmakers in 1857, the state said, but not completed until 1861. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the federal government.