Boulevard dad Zach Lewis always loved playing with his Legos when he was kid. And then he grew up, got a job as a reporter at The Plain Dealer, started writing a fitness column, started a family, and then became the newspaper's classical music critic.
And when his sons---eight-year-old Wesley and five-year-old Elliot---were toddlers, Mr. Lewis re-kindled his long-lost love for Legos. He broke out all the pieces that his mother had saved and he started building.
So he built a replica of his former Tremont home (that one, you could take the roof off and look inside), his home in Shaker, his wife's bathroom (there's even a Lego roll of toilet paper in it), his favorite home in Shaker (which took some clandestine exterior photography when the home was empty and for sale) and Case Western Reserve University's Harkness Chapel.But Mr. Lewis wasn't just content to just build mismatched structures, imaginary creatures, or mini Lego cars. He wanted to build replicas of actual buildings. To scale. And with detail.
Then about a year ago, Mr. Lewis started building Boulevard Elementary School. He loved the classic architecture of the building and liked the idea of the challenge because of the building's size. He began buying up all the pieces and looking up images of Boulevard's roof on Google Earth so that he could get everything just right.
His first attempt was way too big and he started over. Nine months later, he delivered his masterpiece to the office at Boulevard. And it’s nothing short of spectacular. Mr. Lewis is remarkably humble about his “Legovard.”
“I feel like what I do is nowhere near what I’ve seen people accomplish,” he says. It’s true that there are many a Legophile who invest more time and money (“It’s not a cheap hobby,” Mr. Lewis admits) in their passion, but given Mr. Lewis’ role as a father and full-time professional, his structures are works of art.
And what do his boys think? “I think it’s cool how he got the wood chips to look real,” says Wesley. Elliot likes to move around the outside and see where his classroom is.
For now, the replica is in storage, but a case is in the works so that it can be permanently on view inside Boulevard.
“Lego teaches you to do things right,” Mr. Lewis says. “I’m not happy with something until it’s finished. There’s this whole spatial awareness component and sense of geometry that makes Lego such a great toy. And what I do really gives you an appreciation for the world around you. Because I’m looking at these buildings in Shaker that are so ornate—and they’re right around the corner from us—and taking such pleasure in all these beautiful structures around us.”