Tiny town comes to life in Cypress Landing garage

Published 10:25 pm Monday, January 7, 2008

By By DAN PARSONS,Staff Writer
This year may be the last one that a little-known town in Beaufort County will be in existence. That’s because when Phil Brouillet dismantles his model Snow Village, he doesn’t plan on setting it back up.
The village is a conceptual town made up of ceramic houses and buildings Brouillet has collected since 1987. He now owns 242 of the tiny structures, choosing certain ones from his collection to create the model village that occupies an entire two-car garage at his Cypress Landing home. The present model was first built in 2004, modified the next year and completely dismantled and rebuilt in 2006. Brouillet added a beach, made of Nags Head sand, in May.
Brouillet doesn’t rely on the company that makes the buildings to provide him with everything. Everywhere within the model are finishing touches he added by reusing household items like bottle caps and egg cartons. He made a coliseum-shaped skating rink out of a pound-cake box and fir trees out of painted pine cones. When he couldn’t find a ready-made addition to the village that he wanted — like a seaside boardwalk or a ski jump — he built one out of modeling wood.
The flagstone walkways throughout the village are handmade, cut out of egg cartons. One two-foot-long section near a frozen lake took eight hours to create, he said. Waves lapping the shoreline at points have realistic-looking spray made with clear silicone and tiny dolphins leaping out of the surf.
When Brouillet and his wife, Rosemary, moved to Beaufort County, he designed his house and garage with the future model in mind, complete with strategically located storage closets to store his supplies. He had been a certified structural engineer in New York, New Jersey and Florida designing and building full-size versions of many of the things he now creates in miniature.
The village began on paper. Detailed plans of the village hang on the wall in Brouillet’s garage for reference while he’s setting it up.
Brouillet said his obsession with modeling doesn’t bother his wife, although she elects not to participate. He said she enjoys the village once it’s up and operating, but the village is not for the couple’s enjoyment alone. In 2005, 700-plus people visited the village during a home tour at Cypress Landing. Last year 170 people came to see Brouillet’s creation and 70 have visited so far this season, he said.
Brouillet plans to leave the village up until May when he will dismantle the village, and pack it up for good.