Leslie Evans' Altes Haus
By Karin Corbin
From: Miniature Collector, March 2007
Take an adventure in multiple dimensions, travel through space and time. Your journey will take years and your mission will be to create an object of such powerful magical properties that it can transport viewers into the past, into dimensions of altered size and can transform imagination into 3D reality. Few persons are up to such an arduous challenge, but Leslie Evans of Los Angeles, California, is one who was.
Called upon to search through dusty volumes to find inspiration and guides, Leslie found his in a 1920s book in the University of California at Los Angeles' library. There it was, a German Fachwerk (timber-frame) located on the Rhine River in the town of Bacharach. The design of the 1368 building has been an inspiration for a future generation of Victorian homes. Mr. Evans was better prepared than many to create his magical miniature time machine as he lives in a full-size, late-Victorian-era Craftsman that he has restored. Another book from the 1920s showed museum re-creations of interiors in German Renaissance houses of the late 1500s; that was Leslie's time frame guide.
From 1989 to 2004 the now-retired UCLA International Institute Website and publications manager patiently labored to transmute common materials into magic. He drew the journey's maps consisting of layers of floor plans, drawings of facades, countless architectural details. Working from a single photo showing only a small portion of the full-size building required creative designing. Leslie knew what he wanted, a structure with depth as one looked through leaded glass windows to see beyond a doorway into the next space and sometimes yet another. That required him to start in the center, completely finishing one room before adding on others one by one until he ended up at the outside. Inside the five and a half by two and a half by three and a half-foot structure are 14 rooms along with hallways, walkways, stairs and a gallery. Conceived in his mind as an inn, it contains a great hall, dining room, kitchen, storage, music room, game room, library, quarters for the innkeepers, a bedroom for wealthy travelers, rooms for students and a humble attic space for the poor. Listen and you will hear music: Bach, Hungarian Gypsy and Jewish Klezmer.
It was only towards the end of the adventure that he learned his inspiration was still standing; in its parallel universe it, too, was an inn. Much beloved, this historic building is simply called the Altes Haus, the Old House.
Karin Corbin is a miniaturist who also builds Old World, half-timber structures. She lives in Washington.