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HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — Thirty-three years ago, Steven Burke spent nearly all of his $183 tax refund on a hand-made replica of a 16th-century mansion in Peru — a purchase that would shape his destiny.

On that day, he began collecting tiny buildings made from soap boxes or tin cans — not just houses and churches, but steel mills, diners, banks, Ferris wheels and a Gulf Oil drilling platform. He gathered miniature versions of the Chrysler Building, a Moravian church in Winston-Salem, N. C., a train station in Milwaukee and the Alamo painted red — the history of American architecture small enough for a mouse.

At 70, he has now rescued and celebrated the work of a thousand mostly anonymous artists, caretaker to a little universe.

See Saturday Style for a peek into this Hillsborough, N.C., man’s fascinating collection.

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