One of Americana Souvenirs and Gifts biggest attributes is their willingness and ability to bring to the playset market, nicely detailed scale replicas of actual Civil War landmarks. Back on April 8 we covered their version of the Burnside Bridge which is also located at Antietam and this time we'll feature the Dunker Church. It's so named for the German sect of Baptist's known as the Dunkers. It occupied high ground which became Union General Joseph Hooker's objective during the first day of battle (September 17, 1862) but was defended by troops under the command of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. The site of the church was the scene of daylong engagements and counter engagements and afterwards was used by the Confederates as a temporary aid station. The Battle of Antietam (also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg) was one of the bloodiest in American history but the brick church managed to survive albeit with bullet and cannon shot damage. The church was renovated after the war by the congregation but time, inadequate maintenance, and the ravages of souvenir hunters caused structural damage and the church fell in on itself during a violent windstorm in 1921. The church was put up for sale and it and the grounds were bought by Sharpsburg resident Elmer G. Boyer who saved all salvageable material! He then sold the property after which a gas station and gift shop were erected on the foundation but that was ultimately removed in 1951. The land eventually was bought by the Washington County Historical Society who then donated it to the National Park Service (are you following all this?). The National Park Service re-built the church with the remnants saved those many years before by Mr. Boyer just in time for the 100th anniversary in 1962! This structure has got to have one of the most fascinating stories of any during and after the Civil War.
Americana's set includes 12 figures: 6 Union and 6 Confederate each in 6 poses and the 11-piece church with two doors that open and close. It's made out of a flexible vinyl and after years of sitting in the bag, my building had some warpage issues with one wall. I suppose it could be handled with the hot water/cold water method of straightening parts but I didn't feel up to messing with it. One of Americana's biggest drawbacks is 'dirty' castings - lots of flash and mold marks. You'll need to scrape the flash off of the doors if you want them to close. I built the church according to the simplified instructions printed on the header card and as a result the walls are on incorrectly! When looking towards the main door in the front of the church, the side wall to the left has a door while the side wall to the right does not. That is not what is shown in the instructions. Disassembling the building might prove problematic if the tabs start breaking off but I suppose it will have to be done. Note that the photos show the incorrect placement of walls. The finished church measures 11 3/4" (29.8cm) W (without stairs) x 12" (30.5cm) D (without stairs) x 10 3/8" (26.4cm) H making it quite a large building. it'll take up a fair amount of playset area real estate so it might be put to better use as then center piece for a diorama. Enjoy! Fritz and Bettina Berg
Library of Congress
Confederate dead laying before Dunker Church
Library of Congress
Look closely at the instructions and you'll see the incorrect placement of the end wall with the door. It should go on the opposite send
The pieces as they come out of the bag
The 11-piece church
Scraping flash off is a must if you want the doors to close
The walls are joined together by an unusual hinge-type assembly
From this angle you can see the incorrectly placed side door. This end wall piece should be located on the other side to be historically accurate
At a full 54mm this is one large structure.