|Written by Paul D. Race for Big Indoor Trains™|
About a year ago, I started taking photographs of buildings that I thought would make good candidates for this project. Most of the buildings I photographed are over a hundred years old, so you should be able to use them on just about any railroad. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to get a photo of a suitable building without power lines hanging off of it, cars and streetlamps in front of it and so on. Some buildings are impossible to get period, since you need to get a "dead on" shot if possible, and sometimes you just can't get far enough away to do the building justice. In addition the "aspect" is always a little off; no matter where you stand or what kind of lense you use there will always be at least a little distortion.
Still, getting a good photo to start with is relatively easy compared to what has to be done on the computer. The "short version" of what happens next is listed below:
To the right above is a "before" and "after" version of the same photo. Notice that the tree branches, light pole, road sign, construction barrel have all been digitally edited out. Every photo on this page received similar treatment; in some cases I even had to edit the reflections of modern automobiles out of store windows. In other words, the "after" versions on this page represent a great deal of craft and a certain amount of art, so I will ask you to please respect our copyrights and hard work.
You are encouraged to:
If you think of another noncommercial use for these that you'd like to try, contact me me and I may make this list longer:
However, you are not allowed to:
That said, I have other building photos I hope to incorporate in time, so I hope that this section of the site continues to grow. Please check back every so often. Now for a few technical notes about printing these:
About the scales of these photos - The building photos on this page are optimized for O scale (1:48) and for S scale (1:64, which is 3/4 the size of O scale). If you are operating an O scale model railroad or diorama, the O scale printouts may be what you you need. But here's a caveat. Some of these buildings will dwarf your trains or towns just because they're models of big buildings (and most of your three dimensional models are models of little buildings). For that reason, I would recommend trying the smaller size (S scale) at first for all buildings except maybe the log cabin and gray two-story. Be certain to use non-acid paper or card stock to avoid rapid yellowing. And when you're all done, a couple coats of satin or flat indoor-outdoor clear acrylic will add additional protection against yellowing, stains, and dust.
About File Formats - If you want to download the jpeg file and resize these building yourself, just click on the building name. If you know you want an O scale or S scale building, click on the appropriate icon next to the building thumbnail, and you'll get a .pdf version that is already sized for you. You will need Adobe Reader to read and print the pdf files, but these seem to be easier for most people to use.
When you print, be certain that the software doesn't select the "scale to fit page" option. You want to print at exactly 100%.
If you can't get any images to work at all, let me know, and I'll try to figure out what the problem is. ALL of these will take serious time to download on a dial-up connection, and I can't help that without reducing the resolution of the photos. Sorry about that.
What If My Trains are Bigger than O Scale? If you are modeling in a larger scale, such as Large Scale (AristoCraft, LGB, etc.), we do have higher resolution versions available that you may resize for your particular scale. Click here to be taken to that page.
O and S-Scale BuildingsThree-Story Red Building (956K) This building and the next one stand next to each other on south Main Street in Dayton, Ohio (just north of route 35). I liked them because they represent the classic "storefront" buildings that dominated many American "downtown" districts between 1850 and 1920. The shape of the window trim on this one is unique, too. In addition, I could get a fairly "dead-on" shot by dodging the panhandlers across the street near the McDonalds. Unfortunately, the first story was so shaded that it didn't stay in focus as well as the rest of the building, but that doesn't destroy the overall effect. On my computer, I "squared up" the shot and removed an anachronistic street lamp and countless phone lines.
|Three-Story Yellow Building - (1.5meg) - This Dayton building is another painted brick edifice. Again, I squared up the building and removed an anachronistic street lamp and many phone lines. However, in some cases the lines crossed details on the building that would be difficult to reconstruct if I edited them out altogether, so if you look closely at the the blowup you can still see them, although I doubt most people would notice. One wierd aspect of this building I just noticed when I was trying to calculate the scale of the building - this building actually doesn't have any doors facing the street. I'm sure you can figure out how to get around that if you need to.|
South Park Methodist Episcopal (2.9meg) - This church is on a quiet street near the border of Oakwood and Dayton, Ohio. Too quiet, really - the decendants of the generations that built and once filled this building have migrated farther into the suburbs, leaving an impressive heritage and an equally impressive heating bill. By digitally removing tree branches, most of the phone lines, and other clutter, I have attempted to present this structure more as it would have appeared in its prime.
As this image is supplied, it is about 1:53 in scale a tiny bit smaller that O scale. But the building it models is so big, it would probably look good with Christmas villages or Lionel trains if you print it full size on legal stock. Again, if it dwarfs the other structures on your railroad, try printing it at 75%.
|South Park Methodist Episcopal Parsonage (1.8meg) - The parsonage of the church above is equally imposing. I frankly don't know if the minister lives there now, although there'd be a lot of room if he or she does. Again, I removed branches and telephone lines, but I didn't remove the low shrubs in front. If you use this photo, you can probably give things a little more depth by adding a shrubbery of your choice.|
|Goody's Bar (949K) - A few blocks north of the South Park church is another Dayton landmark - Goody's Bar. In the original shot, almost a quarter of the building is blocked by a huge traffic light on a post. Editing that out caused some of the tiles left of the doorway to look a little strange, but I doubt most folks would notice. This is one of the smallest structures on this page. You could probably start with the O-scale version, then go to the S scale version if it seems too big.|
|Virtual "Goody's" - Train Simulator Fan Tim Muir, with my express permission, of course, has enshrined Goody's (renamed the Trolley Inn) as a 3D building that Tim has made available to Train Simulator fans everywhere. A preview is posted to the right. If you're a Train Simulator fan, you can find the building file itself at this link.|
|Gray 2-Story (705K) - Not far from Goody's, also on Brown street, this curious relic stands by itself, probably the last remnant of a small commercial district that was mostly ripped out when a road widened or some such. I've been driving past this building for something close to thirty years, but it wasn't until I started digitally editing the clutter out of the photo that I noticed that the "front" of the building does not actually have any doors. So the "business" side of this structure originally faced ninety degrees from the side the building is "facing" today. Still, the peeling blue-gray paint is a remarkable study in itself. If you really need to see the side with the door on it, let me know, and I'll see if it's possible to get a shot. Like the Goody's structure above, this is a very small structure. You could probably start with the O-scale version, then go to the S scale version if it seems too big.|
Armory (1.2 meg) - If you continue north on Brown street, eventually you bump into Patterson road. Merge right and look straight ahead - you'll see one of the most unusual structures in Dayton. The Armory is not used to store weapons and ammunition today - it contains office space used by lawyers and architects. This building's most notorious use may have been about 1904 when the great women's rights advocate Carry Nation addressed a crowd of about 3800 people here. (The "National Auditorium" in town had made a last-minute decision not to allow her to speak there).
The Armory is not square - it was built to fit between a canal and various roads and railroads at the time. As a result, the building swells outward from both sides. In the original photo, you can actually see the left and right sides of the building at the same time. But that image would be too confusing to include as a "building front," so I've clipped those parts out of the photo. I also edited out numerous tree branches, telephone lines, light poles, traffic signs, and trash cans, as well as a 1990s-looking guard rail.
This building is also pretty big. You might want to print it out at 75% first, and the decide if you have room for the full-sized version.
|Canal Street Four Story (1.6 meg) - When you go north on Patterson past the Armory, you are retracing the route that a major canal formerly took through Dayton. This nineteenth-century beauty was once was nearly on the bank of that canal. Today, the building on this stretch have been converted to less industrial uses, including loft apartments. A half-block further north is Canal Street Tavern, which has great music acts from all over the world, but which is in an ugly building, so it didn't make the "cut" for this page. By the way, this building is pretty big. You might want to print it out at 75% first, and the decide if you have room for the full-sized version.|
Moraine Log Cabin (901K) - About ten miles south of the Armory, there is a tiny historical preserve in Moraine, Ohio. This log cabin is an excellent representative of the kind of log cabins the pioneers built in this region. 10x10" or larger beams were chinked enough to link together. Then after the beams were stacked and the roof was in place, the huge cracks between the logs were stuffed with a mixture of clay and horsehair or whatever materials were available (today they use a kind of concrete). The front step was probably a big limestone block that was already "repurposed" by the time this building was moved. But the missing step gives you the chance to add a little depth to the scene.
Once you figure what size to print this image (see below), there's no reason you couldn't print this four times, cut it apart, and use the old cedar shake roof from the Building Textures page to make a 3-dimensional structure.
"Dillinger's" Store Front (692K ) - We have now left Dayton for the relatively quiet environs of New Carlisle, Ohio, another old community with some history. This former bank is on the corner of the busiest intersection in town. Interestsingly, it was once robbed by John Dillinger. After standing in line like any other customer, and chatting with the local folks, Dillinger told a farmer, "You picked a bad day to go to the bank," drew a firearm and went to the head of the line. In my first memory of the place, the downstairs of this building housed an old-fashioned ice cream parlor called "Dillingers." In recent memory, the downstairs has also housed a Mexican restaurant (run by real Mexicans) and a candle shop. Knowing all of that you can understand why I couldn't possibly leave it out of this collection, can't you?
By the way, because this is a corner building, the door actually faces at a forty-five-degree angle to the right, straight toward the traffic light in the middle of the intersection. Still, it doesn't look bad in the photo. My friend Wil Davis has asked me to add the right wall to this collection so he could model how the building looks on the corner. I have cleaned up a version of the "side" photo; that is shown to the right below. On the "bright side, there's no reason you can't use the "middle" of the side image as the foundation for a whole 'nudder store front.
Medway Farm House (1.6 meg) - Southeast of New Carlisle on the banks of the Little Miami River (and sometimes under them) is the sleepy town of Medway, Ohio. I photographed this early nineteenth-century farmhouse because I liked its clean lines. I also cut out some foilage and a whole bunch of bicycles and benches and stuff on the front porch. (That process left some discoloration on the porch, but it allows you to put your own clutter there instead.) This photograph was taken in early morning, so the upper windows reflect the just-past-dawn eastern sky as seen through tree branches from the other side of the street.
This photo would make an interesting study in faux-three dimensions. You could print two copies, glue them both on foam board, then cut out the front row of porch posts along with the gingerbread and, the fachia with an Xacto knife, then and glue it over the "background" photo. You could paint a strip of foam board brownish-gray to use for the new front edge of the porch, or disguise the foilage in the photo with a shrubbery of your choice. Of course, if you go this far, you could also consider replacing the tin roof with the old cedar shake roof from the Building Textures page. Also, you can see that the upstairs windows once had shutters, another opportunity to add a bit of depth. Sorry, I don't have any shutter images to use for that, but I'll keep an eye out.
Old Fire House - On Old West Main Street, in Springfield, Ohio, there is a great old firehouse building. It has not been used to store fire engines for close to a century. But the basic shape of the building has remained the same.
Unfortunately, windows have been boarded over, painted, and or bricked in, so we drew in a "reflection" to make it look like the windows still have glass in them.
If you want to resize the cleaned-up graphic yourself, please contact me to get a high-resolution .jpg version.
To make using these images as easy as possible, we have provided the following pre-sized pdf images for you.
Here's a site I came across some time ago and was just reminded of. These buildings are not to any particular scale, but several indoor railroaders have found them very useful: Build Your Own Illinois Buildings. When you get there, scroll down to the Main Street Buildings.
Please stop by every once in a while - we have several other buildings to upload when we get a chance. Again, please contact us if you would like to see more of a particular kind of building.
Return to the Resources for BIG Indoor Trains™ page.
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