PIQUA — A local man spent nearly two and a half years capturing the image of his home church and constructing a miniature version of it.
Charles “Chuck” Coby, of Piqua, said that he embarked on creating a miniature replica of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in January 2016, when his wife Margaret, who helped paint the stained glass windows in the replica, wanted a Catholic Church to go in her ceramic village.
“It’s a hobby,” Chuck said about creating miniature buildings.
Chuck finished the church replica, which stands a little over a foot tall on display in their home, in May in time for the church to celebrate its 175th anniversary.
“I think it’s awesome,” Margaret said.
Chuck and Margaret have been members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church since the 1950s, although there were was a 15-year period between 1988 and 2003 when they lived in South Carolina. Chuck is retired from Piqua Lumber and from JM Mold in South Carolina, where he worked as a metal polisher. Margaret is retired from a beauty shop, Classic Hair Design. She encouraged Chuck to take up a hobby after they retired, particularly as something to do in the evenings.
“I said, ‘You need to do something with your hands,’” Margaret recalled.
While still in South Carolina, Chuck took up needlepoint, finishing a piece featuring the Lord’s Supper that now hangs in the kitchen of their home in Piqua. Chuck also took up woodworking and is creating miniature buildings for a Western village. He also creates carved birds.
“I’m just proud of him,” Margaret said.
Working on the project allowed them and other members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church — including several who saw the replica on display at an ice cream social in the Rev. Tom Bolte’s honor — to take in details of the building that they may not have been aware of prior to Chuck’s creating the replica.
“It’s about as close to the church as you can get it without making too many mistakes,” Chuck said. “That’s probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever undertaken.”
The difficult part for Chuck was getting the details laid out and connected correctly. “It had to be just right in relation to every other aspect of the church,” he said.
Chuck said that he planned multiple steps ahead of himself while building the miniature replica to make sure he got the proportions and details correct. “I would be doing three or four steps ahead to try to keep everything in comparison with everything else.”
Chuck said that accomplishment surprised him, as he did not know he was capable of the level of artistry that he achieved for the project.
“It looks closer to real than I ever thought I could make it,” Chuck said, adding, “I never had an inkling in my mind that I could do that.”
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org