Putz Houses by Jason Sargenti

Inspired by the American tradition of Putz Houses, popular from the 1930s to the 1970s, these tiny buildings harken back to the era when department stores showcased sets of miniature paper houses illuminated with tiny lights, creating charming villages. Rooted in Christian and German European customs, the term "Putz" means to decorate or organize. Families would arrange these little houses around their nativity scene, transforming the display into a personalized setting looking like their own village. Initially originating in Europe, Putz Houses found their way to America through merchants. During World War I, when trade with European manufacturers ceased, American production adapted and reinvented the concept. Facing a surging demand, American manufacturers outsourced production to Japan, where the innovative idea of folded paper emerged, making these decorations more affordable and easier to mass-produce. Today, the market is filled with remnants of this bygone era—often showing signs of wear and tear, but resiliently standing as nostalgic symbols of a different time.