What do you do when home sales are slow? Have a home show. In 1919 and again in 1925 Springfield builders offered prize money to local school children for the best scale model homes they could build.
They elected officials, passed laws, had police and fire departments and even their own newspaper. Contractors, material suppliers and home furnishing companies set up booths around Tiny Town to encourage sales.
The following is an excerpt from the "Tiny Town Times", May 29, 1925 titled "How Tiny Town was Born."
"The first Tiny Town was inspired by the Build Now Campaign of 1919 and was designed by W. H. Johnson for the purpose of stimulating home building through the medium of a building boom launched through children of Springfield's public schools. The idea proved so successful that it was determined at the time to repeat Tiny Town on a larger scale in the open. However, the good building era that immediately ensued, occupying the attention of Springfield builders and material men who had sponsored Tiny Town in 1919, the idea of a larger exposition was allowed to drag and finally [was] abandoned.
"Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson was in receipt of many letters of inquiry from time to time concerning Tiny Town and had he so chosen might have readily obtained cooperation of other cities to have staged a broader demonstration of the idea; and though he greatly desired to recreate Tiny Town in a bigger way, declined to cooperate with any other city, hoping that Springfield would recognize the value of Tiny Town, educationally and as a building stimulate, besides being a means of tremendous publicity.
"In October 1924 the Detroit Builder Show requested Mr. Johnson to propose a plan for staging Tiny Town in Detroit and it was then that he conferred with Secretary M. V. Carroll as to the possibilities of reproducing Tiny Town and holding the advantage of resulting publicity for Springfield. Mr. Carroll's enthusiastic support resulted in Springfield's Chamber of Commerce giving Mr. Johnson carte blanche authority to proceed with Tiny Town and after conferences with Mr. H. P. Study of our public schools, the leading local business men and correspondence with prominent building material concerns, the appointment of the present Tiny Town Committee followed in January with Mr. Johnson as director. The development of Tiny Town, now in the hands of a strong and enthusiastic committee, moved steadily to the present complete and most astounding exposition."
The Library Center has a clipping file for Tiny Town and several articles from the newspaper have been indexed.
Find this article at