Callahan School added to collection of miniature buildings in Burrillville ‘block village’

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This week, Callahan School will be added to the collection of block buildings sold by the Friends of Jesse Smith Library.

BURRILLVILLE – Just in time for Christmas, Friends of the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library is offering a chance to show love for the town with miniature replicas of some well-known Burrillville landmarks.

The Friends have added William L. Callahan Elementary School to the Cat’s Meow Village of Burrillville buildings collection, with a wooden block depicting the school now available for purchase. The school joins three other structures that have been made into miniatures by the Friends as part of their ongoing fundraising efforts for the library.

Built in 1938, the two-story brick building now known as Callahan Elementary School once held Burrillville High School. The school is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Harrisville Historic District, and the original portion was gifted to the town by Austin T. Levy, with a large addition later built on the northwest side.

The structure was chosen for replication by a community vote over two other possible options: Bridgeton School in Pascoag, now home to the Burrillville Historical Society, and the Burrillville Town Hall. Friends President Jacki Zahn said she was surprised by the outcome of the vote.

“I thought for sure it would be the Bridgeton School,” Zahn told NRI NOW this week.

The replica, which will be on sale at the library during the month of December, continues a small series started by the Friends many years ago – with all but one of the wood pieces still available for purchase. The Friends first worked with Cat’s Meow, a specialty business out of Wooster, Ohio, in 2007 to create a replica of the library’s original location at 144 Harrisville Main St., which now serves as the Town Annex. The group was still a relatively new entity in town and in 2008, they created the Assembly Theatre building – the first to sell out – followed by the Tinkham House in 2013.

Made for display around the home or office, the Cat’s Meow block buildings are 3 inches high, 7¾ inches wide and 3/4″ thick. The company’s name references founder Faline Jones’ black cat mascot, Casper, who is hiding on every piece crafted by the business. Jones began the endeavor in 1982 using her grandfather’s saw to cut a simple wooden house, and her staff now produces landmarks, scenes and structures for individuals and organizations across the country.

Zahn, who renewed her interest in the Friends group following the death of long-time chairperson Wendy Andrews last year, said that after she was elected president of the organization she began looking through projects the group had worked on in the past, and brought the block replicas up at a meeting.

“I am a big history buff, and I love the town of Burrillville, so I will continue to ‘push’ to add to our collection,” Zahn said.

The new Callahan block costs $20 and can be purchased at the library at 100 Tinkham Lane. The older-model miniature buildings cost $10 each, with all funds used to support and enhance the library’s programs and services.

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