MONTEVALLO, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s not every day that you come across a 1930s camera, especially one that still works.
If that’s what you need, Len Ward is your guy.
Ward owns the Spring Creek Prop Farm, a business he started several years ago to cash in on his hobby as a collector. It was an effort to answer a simple question.
“How can I monetize the hoarding,” Ward joked.
Ward is a lifelong collector and several years ago, he took that old hobby to a new level. He already had old cameras and typewriters, and he eventually added paintings, military uniforms, guns and much more. The collection grew so large that he had to move out of his home and into the log house on his property. The previous home now has a different collection in every room.
Back when his collection was much smaller, he rented out certain items for use in local productions. Pretty soon, he realized he could do more business. With all the movies being shot in Birmingham, he knew it would be much easier for producers to come to Montevallo than Atlanta, where many of them had been going. So he expanded his collection, made a few more contacts, and now some of the items he collects are featured in national films.
“The Spring Creek Prop Farm was developed because there were a lot of films that were needing things: needing props, needing set pieces,” he said.
He’s amassed a large amount of money, including a case full of $750,000 – with one caveat: “Of course it does say: ‘For motion pictures use only.'”
And it’s not about the money for him anyway.
“It’s not a get rich thing,” he said. “If you can.. buy something and it pays for itself, that’s good.”
“The main thing is I enjoy doing this,” he said.
But some of his collections have a value that can’t be defined by dollars signs. Tune in to the CBS 42 Morning News Tuesday for the story of how Ward connected a memorable item with its original owner.