Devoted First Baptist member spends year building replica

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 27, 2005

DEMOPOLIS – It only took him a year to single handedly build the First Baptist Church. Of course his version is somewhat smaller than the actual sculpture standing at on the corner of Jefferson and Strawberry streets. But yet and still, Leon Hoggle can say he has his church standing in his living room.

As a member of First Baptist Church since he and family moved to Demopolis in 1953, Hoggle made the decision to build a replica of the church in 2004.

“I was going to build the whole thing. The gym, the sanctuary and the fellowship hall,” he said. “But, I didn’t realize how big of a job it would be.”

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Thus, Hoggle narrowed his new hobby to recreating the church’s gymnasium.

“First I built the front, then I built the right side, then the left side and the back,” he said. “Then I put them all together and put the roof on top.”

He used green hand towels for the grass and flowers off a wreath from Wal-mart for the plants outside.

The project took him about a year to complete using the time he had in between building dog and birdhouses in his backyard woodshed.

“I build the shop in the early 60s. It was initially going to be a greenhouse but I turned it into a workshop,” he said. “So I started building doghouses and birdhouses and that kept me busy along with the other things I do.”

Although the project has been put together since late August, Hoggle said he continues to find something else to add to his work.

Hoggle chose not to build the replica to scale and said the finished product was bigger than he thought it would be.

“I just looked at the building and formed the sides,” he said. “It’s bigger than I thought it would be, but I am happy with the size. If it had been any smaller, it would’ve been more tedious.”

The 82-year-old Demopolis resident said he will not replicate any more buildings although he is completely happy with the outcome because it was a tedious process.

“I hope I won’t have to build another one,” he said. “I appreciate it more than I thought I was going to. I like the enthusiasm people have to look at and see it.”

Hoggle also enjoys walking in the park and having lunch with friends at the nutrition center. He plays the cello and manages a local string band that plays at area churches and nursing homes.

On the first Thursday of every month the band plays at the Linden nursing home and at the Willows on the first Fridays.

On the second Thursdays they go to the nursing home in Greensboro and on the second Fridays they play at Woodhaven.

“I work in my shop almost every evening. I guess I like to work,” he said. “Works about all I do.”

Although Hoggle continues to build animal houses in his shed, he claims his most prized construction is the First Baptist replica.

“I am more proud if it more so than I am of any of my other works.”