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Three generations of Tamburrino men, including, from left, Dante, his father William and grandfather Bill, have built a model of Bill Tamburrino's home in Fallston. The trio stands on the porch of the real thing recently.
Three generations of Tamburrino men, including, from left, Dante, his father William and grandfather Bill, have built a model of Bill Tamburrino's home in Fallston. The trio stands on the porch of the real thing recently. (Aegis photo by David Anderson, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Fallston resident Bill Tamburrino, 94, has spent more than 30 years building a model of his home in painstaking detail, down to replicas of kitchen cabinets and bathroom fixtures.

"It's a very, very close relationship between the big and the small," Tamburrino said of the scale he uses. "If one brick is 10 inches, the same brick in my [model] house is 1 inch."

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Tamburrino's son William, 60, who has also worked on the model, explained that "everything's on a 10-to-1 scale."

"We can assemble and disassemble it, which gives us a view to the interior," he said.

Bill Tamburrino is a native of McKeesport, Pa., outside of Pittsburgh. The World War II veteran moved to Baltimore after he left the Army Air Corps in 1945, and he moved to Fallston in the late 1960s.

The retired Baltimore City Public Schools teacher and administrator has been working on the model since the late 1970s. The model is a replica of a two-story house in the 1100 block of Old Fallston Road that was built in the style of early 20th-century farmhouses.

State property records online indicate the Tamburrino house was built in 1930.

William said, however, that after family purchased it in 1967, they were told by their then neighbor, the late Henry Wilson of Salem Farm, the house was built in the World War I period.

"It's pretty much the American farmhouse style," the younger Tamburrino explained. "It's a very characteristic shape and design from the early 20th century in America."

Bill Tamburrino said he decided to built the model as a gift for his wife Dorothy, who is 82 years old.

"I said, 'I'm going to do a baby doll house for my wife,' " he recalled.

They met while attending the University of Baltimore, and they've been married for 63 years, according to William Tamburrino.

"I had in mind that this would be something that my wife would really love," Bill Tamburrino explained.

The model house is not furnished, but it includes detailed reproductions of kitchen cupboards and cabinets, as well as sinks, toilets and bathtubs.

"When you see things like bathtubs and sinks and so forth, you'll be amazed at the relationship to a regular-sized one," Bill Tamburrino said. "I made everything in the house that was practical."

He also said he wanted to get the model "perfect."

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"It took a long time, a lot of measuring, and it had to be accurate, very accurate," he said.

Bill Tamburrino started working on the model a few years before he retired from the Baltimore school system in 1981. He started teaching in the late 1950s, and he spent about 25 years with the public schools.

His parents and siblings moved to Baltimore from Pennsylvania during World War II in search of work, which was plentiful in fields related to wartime production.

"My uncle lived here in Baltimore, and he told my parents that there are jobs here," Bill Tamburrino recalled.

His father went to work for General Motors.

Bill joined the Army Air Forces in 1943 and spent the war as an armorer stationed in Italy. Armorers were in charge of all weapons and munitions placed on the bomber aircraft that were sent to attack targets in Europe.

"Any time of day or night, go to the armory, get what was going to be used at that particular point," he said of his duties.

Tamburrino started his teaching career as a middle school teacher in Baltimore County for a few years before he went to the city schools.

He spent a few months teaching at Hampstead Hill Junior High School before moving to Patterson High School during his first year in the city.

He was primarily a history teacher, and he was eventually promoted to be the head of the history department at Patterson.

He transferred to Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, or Mervo, in 1967. He worked there until he retired in 1981, and he was a teacher, department head and assistant principal.

During his time with the Baltimore school system, Tamburrino taught history, English, economics, sociology and psychology.

His son noted that Tamburrino also developed a social studies program used by schools throughout the city.

"My father designed this civics experience program for this purpose, to get [students] out in the field and see how things work," William Tamburrino said.

Bill Tamburrino worked on the house model as a way to keep busy during retirement.

"I can't stand doing nothing," he said.

He did much of the work on the model himself, with his son and William's son, Dante, 23, who graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park in December of 2014, also pitching in during recent years.

William Tamburrino lives in the Rodgers Forge community in Baltimore County, and he works as the director of the public housing office in the Baltimore field office of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

He is the second oldest of the five children of Bill and Dorothy Tamburrino, and he is the only son. His sisters are named Anita, Dorothy, Christina and Sandra. Dorothy died in 1977 at age 21, William said.

Bill and Dorothy, who have also spent their retirement traveling, have nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, with a fourth on the way.

"I saw many, maybe thousands of hours of meticulous work invested in this, and I saw a few years ago that it wasn't complete," William said.

Bill noted he and his son have been in sync while working on the project.

"His ideas seemed to come right from my head," Bill said.

The trio – father, son and grandson – has started making furniture, such as a bed, for the house.

"It was just a pleasure to have a chance to pick up all of this work invested by my father and take it to another stage," William Tamburrino said.

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