Sunday, October 16, 2016

E. L. Moore's Court House

July 10, 1973

Russel G. Larson,
Associate Editor,
Model Railroader,
1027 N. 7th St.,
Milwaukee, Wisc.

Hi ya . . . . 

Enclosing a couple of sets of photographs (3 each) of a couple of stories to see whether you'd be interested in seeing either one.

FOR THE VILLAGE SQUARE shows the building of a structure which may be used as a Court House, Town Meeting House, an Academy of learning, or maybe a church. Comes to 2050 words, three photographs and two sheets of drawings. Can be built for about 2.50, covers an area 5 x 8 inches and can be completed in a dozen work evenings.

The other is JONES CHEMICAL COMPANY, 2200 words, two sheets of drawings and three photographs. Wordage on back of photos pretty well sums it up  . . . . .

Package came from AHM today . . . .  they've come out with my old MOLASSES MINE, a rough looking backwoods structure . . . . .

Thanks a lot  . . . . . 

E. L. Moore
525 Oakland Ave., Apt 3
Charlotte, N. C. 28204

This letter is the only document I've seen where E. L. Moore mentions a manuscript called For the Village Square. No such article was published in Model Railroader, and I see neither a letter in his files that they bought it nor a manuscript, although they did buy Jones Chemical Co.
[Maybe those stores on the periphery, the Three Store Fronts and a Shop model, are meant to imply the court house is located in a town square.]

This is flimsy evidence, but from the description of the model in that one paragraph pitch for For the Village Square, I wonder if the York County Court House was that model? Maybe Model Railroader did buy the article and maybe this court house was the model. A photo of the York County Court House appeared in their E. L. Moore tribute article, E. L. Moore's Legacy, in February 1980. On the other hand, the date on the bottom of the model I saw at last year's meet-up was 1974, not 1973, so maybe it isn't.


  1. He must've conjured this design on his own. Googling courthouse images, I can't find anything that resembles this. Most are masonry, not wood, and most have pillars the entire height of the building.

    I swear, just like ELM who didn't feel a need for actual trains in his dioramas, I should just model colonial Williamsburg in the style of ELM.

    1. I don't know where he got the idea for this model either. You're right, it seems odd for a court house - made of wood and rather barn-like - but, it might be based on a real building. Somewhere around the house I have a book with photos of all the court houses (old and new) in Texas, and I recall there were a lot of different designs.

      Wikipedia says that there are 5 states with a York County: Maine, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia. That at least narrows the prototype search. There are also 2 Canadian provinces with a York County: Ontario and New Brunswick. There are lots of wooden barns here in Ontario. Maybe ELM was using a really way-out prototype :-)

      A layout without a train is not without precedent. I have a book called Modelled Architecture written by P. R. Wickham, published in 1948 with a picture on pg 129 of what he calls a 'complete layout' of an English town, built around a town square, in 1/4 inch scale that takes up a dedicated 7ft x 12.5ft room. If he actually built it, it must have been quite impressive.