Christopher Brimley updated September 14, 2011

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  • Uses for the HO Styrene Tudor-Style Building Kit - 770 Eastern Parkway by Heljan

    by V. S. Roseman

    Photos by the author

    This handsome structure is shown here fitted out as a school, with gardeners sprucing up the grounds and children on their way to the first day of classes.
    Model Railroading - April 2005 - Page 28 Model Railroading - April 2005 - Page 29

    Brooklyn, NY, is still one of the largest cities in the United States - in fact, our Borough Fathers tell us on road signs that we are the 4th largest. When grand plans were made for the original City of Brooklyn many years ago, a number of great parkways were planned to radiate out from Grand Army Plaza at the entrance to downtown Brooklyn.

    One of the grandest of our great boulevards is the Eastern Parkway, extending across the whole of Brooklyns Eastern District, and upon which are located the Brooklyn Museum, the huge Main Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and the main entrance to Prospect Park. Eastern Parkway is lined with mansions and luxury apartment houses throughout most of its length and is considered by many to be one of the most handsome boulevards in the United States, even comparing favorably to the grand boulevards of Paris.

    At 770 Eastern Parkway stands a Tudorstyle brick building that appears to have been a mansion when it was built in 1934. Large Tudor-style structures have turrets and crenellations to suggest an English Castle, and stained glass windows. Some of the best examples also have rusticated brick (with occasional bricks inserted into the pattern sideways to produce a heroic texture), stone ramparts, stone lentils and windowsills, and heavy wood doors with iron decorative trim. The handsome front building of this kit has these features.

    The prototype building was bought by the Chassidim Lebavitch Religious organization, which encompasses worldliness and friendship. Founded by Rabbi Lubbavich, the structure has become the world home for this group, and also houses a synagogue and offices. The prototype structure is part of a whole complex of buildings adjacent to it with classrooms and other necessary facilities.

    While most of us do not have a specific use for this structure as the world home for the Lubavitch Movement, this building could be used either as it comes from the box, or slightly modified to build a number of different and useful structures for a model railroad layout.

    Although Eastern Parkway is about three times as wide as I have modeled it here, the original 770 stands on a fairly swanky section of this beautiful parkway among handsome townhouses.
    Model Railroading - April 2005 - Page 30

    If you are planning a large city or have a great deal of space to fill, you could use the whole structure as it is built right from the box. On most home layouts, however, where space is at a premium, you could cut out the middle section of the building and just use the front and back sections to reduce the size of its footprint. Alternatively, you could use only the formal Tudor-style front structure and either patch parts to fill the back, or just use a sheet of illustration board to represent a concrete wall that would face the backs of other buildings. In this case, the modern office block structure from the rear of the kit could be used elsewhere or could provide you with a lot of windows and brick material for your spare parts box.

    The model features modern simulated black anodized aluminum side-to-side sliding window frames used in many educational and commercial structures since about 1980. Older-style silver-colored aluminum windows can be simulated by painting these window frames dull silver; this would date their installation as far back as the 1950s. Building your own double-hung windows (up-and-down sliding windows) or using commercially available ones could backdate this structure further. The unusual pattern of windows is found in industrial and educational buildings.

    School, College or Academy

    New York City and many other municipalities used Tudor-style architecture for many schools, and this building could represent a public school, or with all of its elaborate detailing, a private school, college or academy. The modern back of the structure is typical of many colleges and other institutions of learning. Playgrounds, gardens and teachers parking could surround the building, and it could be placed either in the middle of a block or on a corner. A flagpole and flag would usually be on the very top of the building, but some schools have a mast in the front that hangs outwards.

    As a private school or academy, this building could even be located in a treelined area out in the country with parade grounds and athletic fields surrounding the main building, and possibly a dormitory or other structures around it.

    Office Building, Municipal Building or City Hall

    An easy way to add entrances is to build a small vestibule. Use plain styrene painted gray for concrete, or use brick material. Cut two trapezoids or rectangles for the side walls and glue against the building wall.
    Model Railroading - April 2005 - Page 31

    This building could represent the main offices of a fairly large corporation such as a railroad or other industrial entity. Service trucks or fleet cars in the color of the company would be lined up near the motor pool, and you could cut an entrance for underground parking or for servicing vehicles. I have shown this building as the offices for a railroad, with the tracks of a mainline running right outside the building, but many office blocks such as this one were built in towns and cities. The detailing of the building would indicate that this was a very wealthy company (as the railroads once were), but this company could sell grain in the form of flour and cereal, cement, fabrics or almost anything else you can imagine.

    If located right downtown, on a main street or even on a town square, and equipped with the flag of the local municipality, this could be a city hall or municipal building for a town or county. It could also be located across the street from a State Capital as office space for various governmental bureaus. In any case, you may wish to add a proper sign for the company or municipal name of the structure either above the doorway or on a free standing sign near the foot of the large steps.

    The model with the back buildings removed. This becomes almost a profile model that can be used against the wall where space is at a premium.
    Model Railroading - April 2005 - Page 32

    Parish House, Rectory or Parochial School

    The Tudor style of architecture harmonizes nicely with many church buildings, and this building is a good size for any of these applications. As a parish house or rectory it would serve a large congregation, while as a parochial (religious) school it would be one of the smaller examples. You could paint the brickwork the same color as the church you have. Kibri and Vollmer make several handsome church buildings in HO scale, and the photo shows one from Kibri.

    Hospital or Medical Center

    Hospitals were built in this style, and a nice touch would be to make good use of the terrace and roof by adding a doorway to each. I added just a small panel of styrene painted black. On the roof I added some Plastruct lawn furniture painted white. As I had no doctor figures I substituted some nurses in habits with some recovering patients getting some fresh air. Doctor figures, as well as patients and figures in wheelchairs are all available to enhance this interesting application for the 770 structure.

    With or without the rooftop treatment, this building could function as a medical building made up entirely of doctors offices and laboratories, in which case there would be a neat sign over the door with the name of the structure, or the name of the medical group occupying it. You need only to imagine the common waiting rooms and this building could house an HMO, with the emblem of the group either over the door or possibly above the windows on both wings of the front of this structure. Some hospitals and medical structures have flown both American and Red Cross flags, if you wish to put in a flagpole.

    So with very little modification, this structure, could be useful on model railroads of many sizes.

    Some Necessary Kit Upgrades

    The building as you see it in the photos was painted brick red and then Modelers Mortar in light gray was rubbed into the texture of the brickwork (other brands are also available, or you could use pale gray acrylic paint rubbed into the mortar lines). The corners of the front are not engraved with brick, so I compensated for this by brushpainting variegated brick colors, just slightly darker or lighter than the plastic color, and then I oversprayed with one color to soften this effect even more. If you want the absolute in realism, you should cover these blank corner pieces with thin brick material such as the vinyl sheets from Holgate & Reynolds. Use contact cement to fit these to the surface for best results, as styrene cements will not glue the vinylite brick sheets. You could photograph a brick wall, digitize the photo and print out sheets of photographic brick to decorate these corners. I resorted to the painting technique as an expedient because my kit was built against a deadline. I felt that leaving the corners plain gray ruined the effect of the well-proportioned Tudor-style structure. (The real corners are brick, and I have no idea why they were modeled in undetailed gray in this kit.)

    The front staircase really needs twice as many steps as it comes with - each step riser being about 15" as they come in the kit. (Step risers are usually around 8" high.) You could install another staircase, or just take some .080 x .080 styrene strip and fit a piece onto the back of each step. This will reduce the height of each riser much closer to scale. The whole assembly can then be painted a uniform gray color, unless you prefer to make it red to match the building. Brick, as well as stone, steps have been used on some Tudor structures.

    The front entrance could be made into a balcony by enclosing the top plaza with a fence and putting flower boxes on top of each riser or step. The side door would then become the main entrance. I would suggest adding some fire doors in the back. Those could be made by fitting plain styrene into openings you cut in the brickwork. Those doors would be painted to match your window color.

    Most structures will need at least one more door set. The easiest way to add these is to make one or more vestibules of .015 or .020 styrene. Make the two side walls as shown and glue to the building side. Make the front by scribing in the doors or making cutouts to hold aftermarket doors. Add the front and cover with a rectangular vestibule roof.
    Model Railroading - April 2005 - Page 33

    In contrast to the oversized staircase, both entrances to the building have undersized doorways. With their elaborate molding to simulate Tudor-style doors, the best thing to do, in my opinion, is to add awnings over these so you cant tell that they are so undersized. If you keep figures away from these doors you may not notice them too much.

    If you like building structures, you could make one or more little vestibules of sheet styrene glued to the outside of the building wherever you like to provide some additional fire doors. (And if you prefer to leave the kit as it comes, nobody will complain to the Fire Marshal.) I have shown an example of how a vestibule could be done up as an ambulance entrance.

    No curtains come in this kit, but you could make some with small bits of colored paper. Even simpler window shades can be made by using plain tan masking tape applied to the inside of some of the windows, and this obviates the need for any interior detailing.

    If you like lighted models, there is a theatrical method of increasing the realism of this structure. Build small open-face rectangular boxes of styrene or Bristol board. Fit these inside of a few windows, gluing them to the inner face of the building side. Paint the insides of these boxes in a room color such as tan or pale blue. The outside should be painted silver or black to block any light from the electric light bulbs from entering those rooms, and then when your building is lighted, it will appear to have a few rooms with their lights out.

    With a little imagination this building can find its place on many model railroads. This kit is manufactured by Heljan and is available from Walthers.

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