Wednesday, February 3, 2010


A project I've been working on required me to construct 3 each of several famous set structures from the television show LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE that ran from 1974-1986. None of the structures exist today, and any of the plans and blueprints known to exist for them were destroyed in a massive fire that wiped away everything from scripts, set designs, props, concept art, costumes and anything else associated with the show's production. The first commission was for the OLESON'S MERCANTILE and The SCHOOL HOUSE/CHURCH as depicted in the TV version of WALNUT GROVE Minnesota ( was really in Simi Valley less than 1/2 hour from downtown LA!!)  One problem with making models of structures that are movie or TV props, is that they are not real structures in most cases, and their interiors rarely match up with their exteriors. I scanned through hours and hours of episodes of the show and reviewed press photos and cast  set /backstage photos and  also got personal memories from Little House cast and crew for my research before the plans and drawings were started.  Many of the structures over time seem to grow extra walls or details appear on some episodes and on others they are totally absent. With the case of the MERCANTILE,  it's interesting to note the placements of  smoke-jacks and chimneys  on the outside of the building have nothing to do with where fireplaces, cook-stoves and parlor stoves are on the inside sets. Some structures walls actually grew doubt that the set was revised or enlarged once the producers knew the show was going be around for a while.

Since my sister is such a fan of the show I built her a Oleson's Mercantile and Schoolhouse for her as well, requiring me to construct 4 of each structure!

Hours and hours of the show were viewed to find rare glimpses of the buildings backsides to make this as accurate as possible!

A neat shot from the personal collection of my favorite cast member from the show!

It may be hard to tell from these shots, but all four Mercantiles feature lace curtains, shades and even goods and wares inside the windows!!

From what I can tell, that large warehouse type door was to get inside camera access and storage.

I'll show the fabrication process in a later post. Bellow is the schoolhouse during a mid point of construction, with about 20% more to go before it was completed for delivery

A interesting view from above!

After completion the excited new owner of these placed an order for more! She has requested one with her namesake!!


  1. Fantastic job, Mike - your talents amaze me! I can only imagine the hours that went into the research alone.

  2. Great job, it must be fun (and a lot of work, of course) to build such detailed models.

    Love the little plastic people too, did you make those?

  3. Thank you!! No, Those figures I didn't make. Sometimes I must alter existing figures to create a specific "character" or occupation....especially for historical models. My favorites are by a German company that has been making scale figures since the early 1950's. Their detail is spectacular, and also very very expensive. At times you can can get figures from almost any period. Many I buy direct from the company unpainted when I need certain ones that have been put out-of-production. Because I do a good deal of historical models I keep a pretty good stock of figures from the 1830's thru the 1920's. Also a good supply of cows, horses, chickens,and other animal types comes in handy!
    In the Mercantile model you see two figures of a 1900-1910 set, a lady from an 1860's travelers set - (long out-of-production) in the street, and on the porch a lady from a specific 1847 figure set.

  4. I think it's great I'm looking around because I want to do something like what you made (housen of the little house on the prairie) but I cant find much informationon on the internet. In what scale did you made them?

    Greets from Holland