Cordova man builds toothpick replicas of local landmarks
by Jennifer Cohron
Apr 29, 2012 | 3354 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Norman Akins looks over the toothpick replica of the old Cordova High School he recently completed. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
Norman Akins looks over the toothpick replica of the old Cordova High School he recently completed. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
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Norman Akins had hoped to hunt and fish in retirement, but health problems forced him to return to a hobby of his youth – making buildings out of toothpicks.

He estimates that he has made over 25 pieces in the past 12 years.

His first project was an Old Western fort. He has also tried his hand at barns and dogtrot houses.

Lately, Akins has turned his attention to local landmarks.

His collection now includes toothpick replicas of the old Cordova High School, historic Long House and Indian Head Mills office.

The 71-year-old also made a model of the office for the Cordova Park Apartments, where he resides.

Akins said his favorite pastime requires a steady hand and patience.

“I don’t keep up with the time when I build because if I did, I’d get tired. I just do it for pleasure,” Akins said.

Akins’ attention to detail is evident in all of his pieces, but the high school is his masterpiece.

He needed nearly four months and more than 12,000 toothpicks to construct it.

When the project began, Akins said his intention was to build only the original school, which dates back to the Works Progress Administration.

However, fans of his work encouraged him to keep going until the band room, auditorium, library and gymnasium were finished as well.

Akins added a road around the building to make it look even more authentic.

Although some have expressed an interest in buying the piece, Akins said his work isn’t for sale. All of his creations either become part of his own collection or are given away.

Akins is currently collecting photos to help him with his next project – Long Memorial United Methodist Church.

“I think I can take what I have and come close, but I really need photos from before the tornado looking at the back of the church from Green Avenue. I would hate to start it and do it wrong because I like to be as accurate as possible,” Akins said.

Anyone with photos may contact Akins through the Cordova Park Apartments office at 483-7724.