Miniature White House : Home Again
By Christine Show - STAFF WRITER
"This is really important to us," said John Zweifel, 74. He and his wife, Jan, have meticulously designed The White House in Miniature, a 20-ton dollhouse-sized replica of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. — for half a century.
The White House in Miniature Is back at Presidents Hall of Fame in Clermont after a decade on the road.
CLERMONT — A drive to south Lake County can open the doors to rooms of the White House closed to the public. Visitors can get a glimpse of how the most powerful man in the world and his family live through a teeny, tiny view of America's most well-known house — right down to President Barack Obama's laptop, pictures of his children and first lady Michelle Obama's television set.
The White House in Miniature, a 20-ton dollhouse-sized replica of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. that Orlando couple John and Jan Zweifel have meticulously designed for half a century, is back home at the Presidents Hall of Fame in Clermont after a decade on the road.
Just in time for the Fourth of July.
"This is really important to us," said John Zweifel, 74. "We want to keep it here.
■ What: White House in Miniature.
■ When: Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. There will be extended hours, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday through Monday, the Fourth of July.
■ Where: 123 N. U.S. Highway 27,Clermont.
■ Cost: Tickets are $12.95 plus tax adults, $6.95 plus tax for kids 6-12 and free for kids 5 and younger accompanied by a parent.
■ Details: 352-394-2836.
The Zweifels have devoted their free time during the past 50 years detailing every piece of the White House on a 1-inch-to-l-foot scale display. They stitch silk threads to replicate the rugs featured in rooms. Rosewood, maple and mahogany are just some of the wood materials they use to match the floors and other furniture in the White House. Tiny medical bulbs are carefully arranged in the hand-made chandeliers that can fit in the palm of a hand.
"All we're trying to do is give and share the experience," John Zweifel said.
The couple's pride and joy has been showcased at presidential libraries and scores of other shows and venues. The miniature house has been marveled at by millions in every state, Europe and Japan. But for now the little White House will stay in Clermont amidst an array of the Zweifels' vast collection of presidential memorabilia on display.
At the attraction's entrance, an Abraham Lincoln wax figure greets visitors at a life-size model of the White House's state dining room where likenesses of the queen of the Netherlands and Nancy Reagan are expected to be served seared striped bass and grapefruit and gin sherbet at the table. Lincoln is surrounded by models of Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Upon entering the main room where the White House in Miniature is featured, "Hail to the Chief' promptly plays.
On one side, more than a dozen wax figures of presidents surround Franklin D. Roosevelt as a recording plays his "Four Freedoms" speech — freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. Nearby are pieces of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' china that the Zweifels bought at auction. On the other, a lifesize model (Obama stands at attention in a presidential desk replica surrounded by tiny versions of Oval Offices from George W. Bush to John Kennedy.
The White House in Miniature — 60 feet long and 20 feet wide — takes up the room's center with a tin copy of Obama's Oval Office prominently featured. The couple say their incredible attention to detail reflects their love of country
PHOTOS BY TOM BENITEZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER