Sandy Patterson remembers the little boy who came to the Verdier House one day and fell in love with the miniature model of Bay Street, circa 1863.
"I thought history was only for old people," Patterson, the manager, recalls him saying as he marveled over the tiny buildings. "But this is fun!"
After about 14 months of research and building, local modeler Dennis Cannady is ready to unveil his completed recreation of Bay Street, from The Point to just past Charles Street.
"What you see here, you wouldn't be able to see anywhere else," he said.
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The model is a painstaking recreation based on Civil War photographs and Sanborn Fire Insurance and Treasury Department maps. From the number of panes in a window to the lighting around a door, Cannady has recreated the tiniest details in 3D.
Although period images of the buildings and streetscapes exist, Cannady said he had to do extensive research to capture the shoreline as maps show it was at the time.
Of the 42 major buildings and about two dozen outbuildings and wharfs in 1863, only seven buildings survive today, Cannady said. He chose that year because it was one year into the occupation of the city by federal troops, who built structures in addition to the ones already there, he said.
Those changes, from the buildings to the shoreline, are indicative of how Beaufort has grown over time, Historic Beaufort Foundation executive director Maxine Lutz said.
"It's been an evolving street and it's nice to have this one time period captured," she said. "This is pretty much how it looked when it was a prosperous."
Lutz hopes that, like the little boy Patterson met, the model will interest younger, smaller visitors to the Verdier House, who might find the tour and other exhibits a little on the adult side.
The models are about two feet off the ground in display cases and literally at eye level for children.
"One thing that really excites me about it is it is something that children can come into the Verdier House and enjoy," she said. "And I think adults are going to be fascinated. I know the ones who have seen it already have been."
Cannady laughed as he said one of the most fascinating aspects, especially for women visitors, is the fragrant landscaping. Among the spices -- which include a pungent roasted garlic -- is a course ground pepper that was used to recreate oyster shells and California lemon peel that stands in for hay-strewn roads.
Cilantro forms the weeds ringing many of the houses, as Union soldiers had little free time for landscape work, Cannady said. He only placed weeds, however, where photographs showed them.
A close examination reveals historically accurate hitching posts and rails, a wooden sidewalk in The Point and the start of the pontoon bridge that once led and into the Beaufort River.
"There's lots of little secrets," he said with a smile.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.