Former Zearing resident creates mini, historic version of downtown
Tim Adams’ inspiration came from an old photo of the Sunset Post Office, which was located a half-mile northeast of Zearing but closed when the Post Office opened in town. The photo of a humble, white structure spurred Adams to build a model replica of the historic building.
Then Adams turned his sights toward Zearing itself and started to recreate small versions of the historic downtown buildings, many of which now exist only in photos and memories.
It wasn’t long before Adams’ garage contained a mini downtown: the school, water tower, grain elevator and a number of churches — more than two dozen buildings in all.
The mini Zearing display will be on exhibit at the Zearing Heritage Room, located at 101 E. Main St. when it opens again after being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A former housing contractor who has been sidelined by disabilities suffered in a car accident years ago, Adams is well experienced in the construction process and he uses that experience to design and build the models.
“I do a lot of the planning in my head to begin with,” Adams said. “And then I use a foam core to create the basic structure of the building.”
From there, Adams uses computer graphics to design the exterior facades and roofs of the buildings. He incorporates historic photos of business owners and other Zearing scenes in the windows of the buildings.
His attention to detail is impressive.
“When I put them together, I even make sure the roofs don’t leak,” Adams said, pointing to flashing he placed in the roof of one of the buildings.
Adams grew up on a farm just outside Zearing, but after the car accident, he moved to a townhome in Eldora, where he honors his hometown from a distance.
Aside from the Sunset Post Office, Adams has also created two NESCO school buildings, the grain elevator, water tower and the United Methodist Church, the oldest church in Zearing, he said. The replica of the Zearing school building, which was built in 1920, is especially meaningful, Adams said, since the building is being torn down this summer.
“We still have this little version on it, at least,” he said. “This is actually the second version of it I’ve made because I didn’t think the first one had enough detail.”
On the southeast side of the mini, historic Zearing downtown are the garage, Post Office, drug store, Smith Dry Goods store and Farmers Bank.
On the southwest side are Clift Implement, the cafe, an office building, LeRoy Furniture, the jail and Snowgren Produce.
On the northwest side are AD Hix, Hanson Restaurant, Hanson Hardware, a grocery store and the livery.
On the northeast side are the meat locker, another grocery store, harness shop, bank, drug store and Johnson Hardware.
Another project Adams is working on for the Heritage Room is a large photo display honoring local veterans. Area residents who served in the U.S. military were asked to submit photos along with some details of their branch of service and dates of service.
Veterans and their families are still invited to submit photos for this project, which will grow as the collection of photos grows. Adams asks that photos be sent by mail to the Heritage Room or through Messenger to the Zearing Heritage Group’s Facebook page.