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EIU Media Relations

Charleston Family Creates Old Main Gingerbread House


The Old Main gingerbread house was created by Brian Sanders and his family for the Christmas in the Heart of Charleston event. 


Brian Sanders and his children wanted to create something that embodied the “heart” of Charleston.

That’s why the family created a replica of Eastern Illinois University’s Old Main completely out of — yes — gingerbread.

His son, Zach, a freshman chemistry major at EIU, and his 14-year old daughter, Haley, worked together to design, bake and create a mini replica of Old Main, the iconic building on EIU’s campus. All university presidents from Livingston C. Lord to Bill Perry have worked within the building.

The replica was completed earlier this month for a gingerbread competition for the Christmas in the Heart of Charleston event.

“Old Main is the heart of Charleston,” said Sanders, commenting on why his family chose to create the replica for the competition.

His son designed the original sketch for the replica, and the family started working on construction after Halloween. They tried to make the building last year, but ran into some issues with the gingerbread recipe.

After fixing the recipe this year, the family logged more than 150 hours to create the 30-by 15-inch structure. It includes spaghetti, gingerbread men, sticks of gum and lots of icing to hold it together.

Sanders emphasized that the replica isn’t to scale with EIU’s icon. The hard cookie walls are not the exact dimensions of the castle building and the sidewalk doesn’t curve correctly, he said.

The gingerbread house has quickly gained fame across the EIU community with about 2,265 likes and almost 600 shares on EIU’s Facebook page.

A friend of the family, Marshall Lassak, an EIU math professor, saw the structure, and brought it into his office in Old Main for the end-of-year Christmas party last week, which gave campus an opportunity to see the mini-version of the iconic building.

Sanders said he is genuinely surprised by all the attention the structure has received. To Sanders, the project was only about creating something with his family.

This isn’t the first year his family took a stab at making gingerbread houses. In previous years, the family created a gingerbread replica of the Coles County Courthouse.

Sanders isn’t sure of the fate of the Old Main gingerbread house, but the structure currently resides in his office at Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital. 



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Media Relations
Josh Reinhart, Public Information Coordinator

2142 Old Main
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
Fax: 217-581-8444

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