For more than 50 years, families, college students, children and couples have enjoyed spending summer evenings at Tiny Town Golf on Timberlake Road.
The Lynchburg landmark at 7427 Timberlake Road has been for sale, along with the rest of the nearly 26-acre property on which it sits, for about three months now.
Michael Horne, of TCM Properties, the property owner, said although he has listed the site — which includes Uncle Joe’s Donuts, two homes, a garage and about 20 acres of undeveloped land — his wish is for a buyer to continue operating the miniature golf course as-is.
“We’ve had a ton of people say, ‘Don’t get rid of Tiny Town,’ and we don’t want to. We just have property we’re concentrating on further up Timberlake Road. I’m hoping someone else continues to take it over. It’s a good investment property and the revenue each year continues to get better. It’s very steady; the same people come out to play and you see the same faces.”
Horne said with the growth of Liberty University he sees a younger customer base and the business is even better than when he first ran it nine years ago.
Horne also owns Timberlake RV and Hometown Storage at 21330 Timberlake Road and said he is ready to focus on those businesses.
Horne said he was leasing Tiny Town for the past eight years before the tenant decided to no longer run the business, so Horne recently has taken over again.
Brian Brown, a licensed Virginia salesperson who is an independent contractor with Long & Foster, said Tiny Town alone, which is 1.68 acres, had previously been listed for sale with DeWitt Real Estate & Auctions from 2016 to 2017 for $499,900.
Long & Foster has been listing the 25-acre property for $1,895,000 since the end of March.
Tiny Town opened in 1965 and was owned by Beverly Roberts, who also owned the Lakeside Amusement Park in Salem, according to the archives of The News & Advance.
Bill Hardy, who was a freshman at Lynchburg College in 1965, was the very first employee at Tiny Town and worked as its manager for four years until he graduated in 1968.
For the first two weeks, he remembers, no one else worked there, and he poured in hours at the attraction because the miniature golf course was so busy.
“It was horribly busy for the first two summers,” he said. “We had a deal on Saturdays where you could play all day for $3 or $4 and parents would drop their kids off to play all day. It would drive you insane.”
Hardy also remembers as a young adult himself, it was a popular hang-out for young people.
“It was a great time. It was a happy place, it was a fun place to be,” he said.
In 1968, Carl Price bought the course to complement the driving range his father owned on the land, which also was where his father had grown up.
According to Lynchburg’s online geographic system, Eugene and Janet Stephens purchased it from the Price family in 2002 after leasing it for eight years and owned the miniature golf course until 2005, when Horne purchased it under the name TCM Properties.
The 18-hole course has changed little since its opening date and many locals can point out the property by the windmill at Hole No. 7 and lighthouse at Hole No. 9 — just a few of the fun fixtures on several of the holes.
Though Putt-Putt Fun Center is right up the road about one mile, in a News & Advance article by Darrell Laurant in 2005, former owner Janet Stephens said she didn’t see her enterprise as competing with the national franchise.
“They’re two entirely different things,” she said.
Lynchburg resident Kipp Teague said he used to regularly walk down to Tiny Town from his grandmother’s house just up Timberlake Road when he was about 10 years old back in the mid-to-late 1960s.
“It’s amazing the business has survived for over 50 years, and it would be great to [see] someone purchase it and continue the tradition,” he said.
Hardy, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, said he comes back to Lynchburg every August and sees that the site of his college job has remained the same.
“I hope it stays open,” he said. “It will be sad if someone decides to put something else there. It’s a landmark.”
Horne purchased one of the two homes on the property a month ago to include in the sale; the other home is being rented and the tenant has been made aware of the sale, Horne said.
Uncle Joe’s Donuts also is being rented.
His hope is for a buyer to continue running Tiny Town because it has steady revenues and has been a good investment, Horne said, and to keep the other rental properties as they are.
There are no restrictions on the sale, so a buyer could demolish the property and build something new. Horne hopes that isn’t the case.
“But once you sell something, you can’t control what the next person does with it,” he said.
Rachael Smith covers local businesses and nonprofits. Reach her at (434) 385-5482.