Miniature of the Month
The Cox Building by Ashby & Jedd
This month just over a decade ago, one of Maysville’s most notable landmarks caught fire. The Cox Building at the corner of Market and Third is an architectural treasure cherished by the community. Throughout the years, the 1887 Richardsonian Romanesque brick structure has housed a post office, hat shop, auto parts store, grocery, toy shop, printery, confectionery, music studio, Masonic temple, funeral parlor and sanitarium. On the bottom level, it was home to Kilgus Drugs, which any local will tell you was an important part of their past.
The 1/12th-scale miniature created by Allison Ashby & Steve Jedd serves as a tribute to the historic building. Depicting what the pharmacy and soda shop looked like in the ’50s, it includes tiny re-creations of vintage medicinal products, household goods, toys and those swirling chrome seats permanently situated at the soda fountain counter enabling you to watch your favorite refreshment in progress. This time of year, it also includes tins of Christmas candies, holiday wrapping paper and bows and all the trimmings that made the real Kilgus a festive stop for holiday cheer.
While the interior of the miniature is what has led to so many nostalgic memories, it is the exterior of the structure that will go down in history along with the original structure. When architects found out there were no records, diagrams or blueprints to rebuild the fine angled roof and turret of the Cox Building, they turned to the research and talents of Ashby & Jedd to help engineers restore the building to its historical architecture.
The roof of the miniature helped architects rebuild the original structure’s roofline after a fire in 2010.
Allison describes the commission of the Cox Building as serendipitous, which it is indeed when you consider that its original design did not include the roof. The initial plan was to create a corner projection of the facades of the Third and Market sides which the Kilgus Drugs room box would then be inserted. Ironically, it was the roof that forced Ashby & Jedd to reconsider. “The geometry of the conical, or witch’s hat roof, made that (design) impossible, so the plan had to be changed,” she explains. The resulting miniature, complete with roof, would prove to be more valuable than anyone would know just three years later.
The miniaturists were able to supply a few photographs to architects but it was the 1/12th structure that really became useful in the restoration, says Allison. Imagine the architects doing what miniaturists do, but in reverse!
In building the miniature. Ashby & Jedd used a variety of materials to limit the weight, time commitment and expense. The shingles on the model's witch’s hat are natural slate pieces individually cut to fit. The shingles on the rest of the roof were made of asphalt. The roof was framed just as its full-size counterpart.
The authentic-looking exterior is made from real cast and fired miniature bricks—13,000 of them. “Because we did not have access to scaffolding or a hydraulic lift, we based our measurements off the size of one of the full-sized bricks on the actual building,” says Allison. “We stood on the street and counted courses of bricks between windows and courses of stone.”
“The full-sized bricks are a type of Roman brick,” she continues, “which means that they are shorter in height than common brick.” That proportion required each one of the cast bricks to be cut down in height using a diamond wheel on a rotary tool. The “stone” elements were made by Steve out of basswood, individually numbered, then hand carved and painted by Allison to resemble scaled-down sandstone. Steve also created the windows using the same techniques that were used to build the originals with individual sashes and casings. All in all, it took Ashby & Jedd about a year and a half to complete. The miniature was then installed in November 2007. It remains one of the KSB Miniatures Collection’s most popular exhibits.
The Cox Building miniature is one of three of Maysville’s historic structures created in 1/12th scale by Ashby & Jedd. It is on permanent display in the KSB Miniatures Collection.
KSB Miniatures Collection at The Kentucky Gateway Museum Center