Building an ACW Tollhouse

During the Civil War, tollhouses were quite a common sight. There is even an anecdote about General Sheridan being held up by one Charlotte Hillman, the keeper of a tollhouse, who refused to let his army pass. Only after Sheridan promised to send the money the pike was raised.

This already shows the potential of such a piece of terrain for a game like Sharp Practice, so I did some research on the Internet and looked for a suitable building to replicate.

There was one type I especially liked, namely the small octagonal stone buildings that were erected on the National Road in 1835. My first thought was: I want to build this! Followed by: Are you mental?

The Petersburg tollhouse.

This would be the most complex scratchbuilding project I’ve undertaken until then, so I drew a plan for a change. Normally, I just make a sketch and then get going, but the octagonal layout, the porch and the roof demanded a bit of thinking ahead.

First, I cut the wall elements out of 0.8mm plastic. I glued on the windows, which I got from Auhagen – they offer packs of spare H0 windows which fit perfectly for 15mm and are pretty good value. Their doors, however, are too small, so I made my own.

The wall elements and the base.

Assembling the walls showed how sloppy a worker I am – with the octagonal layout, errors in cutting are visible pretty soon. It worked out fine in the end and I knew that any gaps would be covered by structural paint anyway. I do however marvel at the precision of architectural model builders!

The walls are glued together.

After the structure was done I covered the walls in structural paste. This served to cover up any gaps and also to give them a nice surface.

Then came the dreary part. As the roof is too fiddly to use premade plastic sheets, I covered the whole thing with tiny cardboard rectangles. This is mind-numbing work of the highest degree and it took quite a while, as there is only so much of it you can bear at one sitting.

I also added a Peter Pig trough and a spare barrel to enliven the base.

The roof is finished.

After priming the whole thing, I painted the walls with Vallejo Stone Grey and the roof with Citadel Stormvermin Fur. The wooden parts were done in a light brown colour. And ink wash was applied and then everything was drybrushed several times.

And here it finally is:


By my standards, this was quite an ambitious project, but it was fun to make and I’m really happy with the result. I’m sure it will provide our ACW games with dramatic as well as amusing narratives.


2 thoughts on “Building an ACW Tollhouse

  1. Pete S/ SP April 29, 2016 / 8:48 pm

    Great work- credit to you for getting through all the roofing work. A task like that for me would see it left in the box for another day indefinatly.



  2. miltiadis October 13, 2017 / 12:05 pm

    this is really wonderful. You did a great job

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