Before the south became the new south, before indoor malls and box stores, there was Tiny Town, a holiday tradition for generations of southerners.
Perry and Ollie Jennings began Tiny Town in 1974, when Perry built Ollie a small replica of the log cabin she had always wanted to live in, but knew was unlikely in her future. The mini version of her dream home brought so much pleasure that the building continued, and soon the small token of affection became an entire, tiny town, with both of the Jennings working together to build a miniature version of their very own little town. In 1977, Christmas lights became a festive addition, and the wee buildings continued to pop up in the growing mini-tropolis. Soon, Tiny Town became a holiday staple in Easley, a place to bring the kids and admire the handiwork of the Jennings. In 2009, after both Jennings had passed on, Tiny Town had a total of 80 structures.
Today, only 25 have survived, some of the displays have been altered (including a diorama of a jail cell with a hanged man inside, most likely removed as not child friendly). The Jenning children Pat Kelly, Bill Jennings and relative Debbie Kelly have picked up the torch and expanded Tiny Town with larger and brighter displays, while many of the original shingle and scrap shacks still remain at the heart of the yard. The display still attracts thousands of people, and Pat intends to keep the tiny town alive and sparkling as long as she’s able.
Tiny Town represents a kind of vernacular handicraft which was once common in the south and has now largely gone by the wayside or been sold off to folk art collectors, and it is not unreasonable to think some of the older examples will eventually find their way into museums or private collections. Until then, you can still visit Ollie and Perry’s Tiny Town in all of its holiday glory.