Museum adds tiny versions of historic homes

Published 12:02 am Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Martha Vick House and the Balfour House, both historically significant homes in Vicksburg, have new spots at the Battlefield Museum, or at least their mini replicas do.

Jackson resident and model-home hobbyist Robin Burr donated two 1/87 railroad HO scale model replicas to the museum Saturday, adding to a sprawling Vicksburg diorama.

Burr’s re-creations, which cost around $200 each to build, are his fourth and fifth additions to the museum.

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“It was fun,” said Burr, an analyst for Pruet Oil Company in Jackson.

His first was of the Vicksburg National Military Park’s Shirley House.

“I came in one day, looked at the model that was there, and I asked Mr. (Lamar) Roberts if I can build one that looked exactly like it,” he said. “I found out that it was something I could do.”

In 2008, he donated a model of the Old Court House Museum, which took a year to craft, and last year, he delivered a model of Crawford Street’s Pemberton’s Headquarters, also known as the Willis-Cowan House, which is next door to the Balfour House on Crawford Street.

“Robin is doing us an outstanding job,” said Lamar Roberts, museum owner-curator. “He’s building Vicksburg one building at a time.”

Burr created both homes after carefully studying details.

“I went over to the houses. I took my camera, tape measure, clip board,” he said. “I took notes. I took pictures. Then I scaled it down to that size.”

The replica of the Martha Vick House, which was built in the 1830s and was owned by David Hunt Dabney until he died last month, took Burr 4 months to complete.

The image of the Balfour House, also built in the 1830s and currently owned by Texas businessman Matthew Wiggins, took 9 months to complete.

All replicas are on display at the museum until the new Vicksburg Transportation Museum until the Levee Street depot’s expected opening next year.

“We hope to be there within a year,” Roberts said. “We hope to occupy at least 2 1/2 floors.”

Roberts said he will close the Battlefield Museum when the new museum is ready.

The museum will be part of the City Front-area attractions that include City Front Murals, the Art Park at Catfish Row, the anticipated U.S. Army Corps of Engineers interpretive center and museum at the MV Mississippi IV.

Burr said he has no ideas for his next creation.

If you go The Battlefield Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. The museum is located at 4139 N. Frontage Road. Call 601-638-6500 or visit for more information.