Maury Co. artist brings childhood memories to life with mini building replicas

Anne Holt's Tennessee

MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Memories are the inspiration for a Maury County artist. When he saw country stores and old barns disappearing from the rural landscape, he found a way to save them.  

Philip Crews never realized how many memories a miniature structure could hold until he started making them. 

“Right here in this same community, there was an old country store that me and my friends would ride our bicycle to and get a coke or a popsicle and it was torn down in the early 60s. Not being a painter, I wanted some way to recreate those buildings that had such wonderful memories. And having done carpentry work in my younger years, I said well, I’ll just build them.” 

Philip accepts commission work from all over the country. He builds mostly from photos like the one from a daughter whose parents could no longer live at home. 

“They were getting ready to have to go to assisted living and they just cherished this house because the father had built it with his own hands. And they were devastated to leave it. Barns are very popular for you too. A leaning barn. Yes. Like most of them are today. Missing wood, missing a piece of tin or two. They are about to disappear from our landscape. They are. Nobody is building the wooden barns back, except for the Amish. That’s about the only ones that actually build wooden barns. And this wood came from a barn that had already fallen.”  

But don’t mistake the lean for structural weakness. 

“I have to build it leaning because I can’t force it. You could stand on this. It’s nailed, its glued.” 

It’s also built to carry lifetime memories of though generations of families. 

“People are really close to their barns. As children, they played in them, as they got older, they worked in them, and there is a lot of memories in barns.” 

Whether it’s a log cabin, a country store, or the home place, Philip Crews recreations touch the heart and soul of each customer and the artist. 

“It makes me feel great that I had such a small part in rekindling memories in things that they cherished. It’s just wonderful.”  

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