Dan Shaw will flash you a wide grin and tell you he is the mayor of Danville, arguably one of the most unique "towns" in the world.
His mini-village with a 1940s theme is tucked inside a large airplane hangar on the outskirts of Geneva in a rural pocket of east Seminole County. At 3,000 square feet, it's just large enough to hold an Irish pub, a phone booth, streetlights, a one-room City Hall, a movie theater and a single-occupancy bed-and-breakfast.
And to show you his colorful mini-village, "Mayor" Shaw presses a remote control that lifts open a side wall of the hangar painted to look like a quaint Florida home. It's like opening a very large automatic garage door.
"My wife — an electorate of one — voted me mayor," Shaw said with a laugh. "And we had to name our town something, so I decided to name it Danville."
Over the past two years, Danville has been the venue for dozens of weddings, anniversaries, parties and other large events. And many of those guests end up spending the night at the Danville inn.
"We like to think of it as the best place in Orlando to have a party," said Sally Bush, who handles sales and marketing.
Shaw, an avid pilot and a retired plumbing contractor, came up with the idea for Danville several years ago when he decided to build an airplane hangar that would also serve as a guest house for his visiting aviator buddies on his 25-acre wooded property.
And over the years, he erected walls, added rooms, installed bathrooms and set up a kitchen inside the hangar. He also brought in antique furniture, phones, desks, typewriters, fans and other mid-20th-century items he picked up on craigslist, eBay, and salvage yards. Items also came from the old Rosie O'Grady's jazz emporium in downtown Orlando.
"I didn't want it to be a normal [airplane] hangar," Shaw, 66, said. "I wanted something unusual. I wanted something different. I wanted it to be fun, and we accomplished that."
Soon, people started asking Shaw if they could use Danville for parties, weddings or other events. So about four years ago, Shaw received approval from Seminole County to run his mini-village as a one-occupancy bed and breakfast.
In the past year, about 25 couples have tied the knot in Danville's outdoor gazebo and gardens before spending the night at the bed and breakfast.
Some of the past guests included a Scottish wedding party that flew into Sanford from across the Atlantic to hold their wedding ceremony in Danville.
"They were great fun," Shaw said.
The bed-and-breakfast includes a living room, a guest room, and a second floor with a large master suite with large windows that look out onto Danville. The second floor also includes a movie theater with a 1920s theme and a 3-D large-screen television.
Danville does little advertising, Bush said. Rather, she relies on word-of-mouth and travel websites to promote the business, including tripadvisor.com and flipkey.com, which have given it positive reviews.
Shaw said he has lost track of how much money he has spent building Danville. He is constantly adding new features. A few weeks ago, for example, he completed a phone booth with an old-style cradle phone and rotary dial.
"For me, there's nothing more fun than watching people's faces when the door swings up and they see Danville," Shaw said. "And it's a wonderful way to meet people."
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