2020 Christmas Porch Tour

Enjoy the sights and sounds of an old-fashioned holiday celebration in Historic Downtown Albany. The Christmas Porch Tour offers a festive look at a few of our beautiful historic homes decked out in their Christmas best in a self-guided walk or drive-by event bursting with bright, holiday-wrapped fun.

The tour will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13.

A dozen houses will be on this year’s tour and most are within the Monteith Historic District. Albany has more than 800 historic structures within its four nationally registered historic districts. (For more information about the houses on this tour, see the bottom of this blog.)

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, participants are asked to not enter the homes or go onto the porches, to wear masks where appropriate, and enjoy the homes from the sidewalk or the comfort of their vehicles. Because of restrictions, there will be no horse-drawn wagon or trolley rides.

But while restrictions may be in place, there is still plenty of fun to be had.

THE CONTEST

In addition to seeing beautiful homes, participants can take part in a contest for prizes while they are touring, including a large gift basket courtesy of the Monteith Society, and four $25 gift certificates to Downtown Albany businesses. Allform you have to do is download a contest form here or pick up an entry form along with your ticket at the AVA. Then, as you visit each home find a poster associated with each house and write down the Christmas image in the numbered slot that’ matches that location. After filling out the form, return it to the Albany Visitors Association, 110 3rd Ave. S.E., and put it into the mail slot. Contest posters will remain up only during the tour. Deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14. Make sure to have your contact information on the entry from, and winners will be contacted. It’s as simple as that!

GET TICKETS (with a map!)

Where do you get a ticket? Tickets are available for download now by clicking here or at the AVA office beginning at 1 p.m. the day of the tour. (Be sure to print legal size. For convenience, print on both sides on one sheet of paper and fold like a booklet!) There is no cost for the tickets or contest, but participants are strongly urged to make a donation. Funds made from the tour are used by the Monteith Society to help run and maintain the non-profit Monteith House Museum, so give generously! Contact-free donations can be made with your credit or debit card using our online payment option here: ( Please note: you don’t have to have your own Paypal account to use this)

Enter the dollar amount you wish to donate:

$  
Donate

if you prefer, checks can be made payable to the “Monteith Historical Society” and mailed to the AVA, PO Box 965, Albany, Oregon 97321, or other donation arrangements can be made by emailing us.

An added sprinkle of fun this year is that some of the houses are participating in the Night Time Magic Holiday Lights Contest. Take time after the tour to visit the other homes in this contest, then go online to vote for your favorite! Stay tuned for that link!

Other highlights on tour day:

The Monteith House will be lit by candlelight.
The Whitespires Church will be lit for the tour. Check out the star on the side of the building!

MORE ABOUT THE HOUSES

Here is more information about the houses on this year’s Christmas Porch Tour:

  1. Research in Progress
    1930, Cottage
    1535 Takena St. SW
    Homeowner: Elizabeth Anderson

This cozy 1930 cottage is almost entirely original on the interior – from the cast-iron tub in the bathroom, to the potato bin in the kitchen, and the upstairs dressing room.  A double-and-a-half lot allows for ample gardening, and the rose garden in the front is the envy of all who pass by during the summer months. The owner and her daughters are slowly bringing this beauty back to its full potential, with lots of love and patience and elbow grease. The family’s nutcracker collection and heirloom ornaments are visible through the front window, as is the grand piano inherited from the owner’s great-grandmother. 

  1. Hulin House
    1879, French Second Empire
    804 Broadalbin St. SW
    Jeff Blackford & Jim Jansen

Dr. Hulin used this house as his residence and place of work, sharing part of it as his office with Dr Aiken. Note the two front doors: the door on the right was where Dr. Hulin and Dr. Aiken had their medical practice. The homeowners have heard stories of emergency surgery in the office (now the dining room) caused by a hit-and-run with a horse-drawn carriage.

In the early 1910s to 1920s a large addition was added, and again in the 40s, and the house was subdivided into two addresses. One upstairs (8th Ave) and one downstairs (Broadalbin). Sometime during the late 70s to 80s, the owner reconnected the home to make it one address and added the garage and connected the garage and the house with a breezeway.

Over the last four years, Jeff and Jim have been restoring the house back to the historic  beauty that it once was, both inside and out, with period lighting, historic furniture, and even throwing elaborate holiday events dressed in traditional Holiday attire.

  1. Research in Progress
    c. 1920, Rural Vernacular/Craftsman-Bungalow
    2020 17th Ave. SW

    Homeowners: Keith Kolkow & Jerrod Taylor

The home first appears in tax records in 1920, though the homeowners suspect it is much older. All the original interior walls were wooden shiplap, which is irregular for the region (some have been preserved and/or replaced). It is suspected the house was originally a farmhand’s home on the original area homestead and was just a box home with four rooms.

Multiple additions and alterations were made to the home over the years, making it the Craftsman style you see today. The front porch, corbels and second-floor window are not original. On the backside of the house there was also a porch which is now enclosed and acts as a dining room with a “back staircase” to the second floor.

Fun fact: the plumbing once had every kind of pipe since indoor plumbing began including, clay, copper, galvanized and PVC!

  1. Research in Progress
    1919, Craftsman Bungalow
    821 7th Ave. SW
    Homeowners: Neva & Eric Anderson

The Anderson Family purchased the 1919 Bungalow in 2017, with the intent to call it home for several years to come. With that in mind, the family began restoration and age-appropriate upgrades, as the home had been neglected for several years. Upon renovation, the homeowners vowed to keep the bungalow’s original charm with its historic wood trim, clawfoot tub, hardwood floors, single pane windows, brick fireplace and covered front porch. The restoration was completed by the Anderson family themselves, in which the process lasted a long and relentless year-and-a-half. The bungalow was deemed a ‘kit’ house back in the early 1900’s, as the house came packaged as a kit, and was shipped in a train box car, likely from Sears & Roebuck. Homeowners at the time could thumb through a catalog, pick out their home kit and it would then be shipped to them via train. It was then up to the homeowner to assemble the home themselves or seek local hires for support.  Thus, over 100 years later, the windows of the 1919 bungalow still shake when local trains make their way through Albany on their journey north, just as it did in 1919 when it was first built.

  1. Briggs House
    1874, Colonial
    606 5th Ave SW

    Homeowners: Sierra Rawson & Jose Gomez

The Briggs house is a 2.5 story home with a basement. There is a notable architectural hood over the front porch. Neighbors lovingly refer to it as the “eyebrow.” Historical information states that the Briggs House was originally built as a Gothic Revival but was Colonialized after the turn of the century. During a renovation, a Gothic window was discovered on the west side of the upper story. The Gothic window sits in the living room today as part of the decor of the home.

  1. Barrett House
    1909, Transitional Box
    637 5th Ave. SW

    Homeowners: Jody & Randy Kruse
  2. Barrett was a Linn County Judge who built the home in 1909 and his family lived in the house until 2017, when his daughter Zella Mae Packard passed away. The home is still in its original style – the homeowners have the architectural plans – and it was recently given a renovation this past year highlighting all its details. The Kruse’s are a three-generation family who are enjoying the livability of this wonderful home in the Monteith Historic District. Homeowners Jody and Randy invite tour-goers to notice decorations through the windows of the home, as they have worked hard to make the inside festive as well.
  1. Cougill House
    1903, Queen Anne/Colonial Revival
    803 5th Ave SW

    Homeowners: Suzette & John Boydston

The Boydstons are just the fourth owners of this home. Before purchasing the Cougill House, the homeowners would walk past the house with their then-small children, and felt it needed love. In the years since moving in, their 9-foot Christmas tree is always placed in the parlour next to the stairs, and decorated with ornaments collected over many years, some made by the Boydston children over 20 years ago.

  1. Merrill House
    c. 1906, Queen Anne
    802 5th Ave. SW

    Homeowners: Marilyn & Bob Hill

Much of the interior woodwork and architectural features remain in this wonderful home, including the original picture moldings and plate rail, oriel windows in the parlor and casement windows in the living room that retain the wavy vintage glass. Pocket doors separate the parlor and living room, and the home has two sets of stairs. Marilyn’s extensive nutcracker collection was started in 1970, and the family’s tree features several Hallmark house and baby shoe ornaments collected over several years. The icebox and buffet in the dining room belonged to Marilyn’s grandmother.

  1. Hayes House
    c. 1887/1902, Gothic Revival w/Bungalow Porch
    806 5th Ave. SW

    Homeowners: Deborah & Toby Blasquez

Research is not conclusive, but it is believed this late 1860s or early 1870s Carpenter Gothic-style home was moved one block from Sixth Avenue. Perry Spink, an 1852 Oregon Pioneer from New York state, settled in Albany in 1857. He was a successful trucking and wood-lot business owner and built the home for his wife, Rebecca Jane, and their children.

Rebecca Jane died in 1872 and Spink married Mary Armstrong. Spink built a new and vastly larger octangular home for his second wife on the corner of Sixth and Maple, and it is thought he moved this home to its current location.

When it was moved, the home stood higher on a new above-ground basement to allow for a sawdust-burning furnace. The original home was heated by three interior woodstoves. In addition, the east-facing side porch was enclosed to make room for an indoor bathroom. Electricity was added at that time, but the large porch pillars were added much later when the home was owned by a Linn County surveyor and are from the original Linn County Courthouse.

Notable former residents of the home include Stanford-educated Professor T.A. Hayes, who was superintendent of the Albany Schools, and the Franz Pfeiffer family.  Franz was the son of the Revere House (hotel) owners and he owned a downtown tobacco and confectionary store. The home fell into disrepair until the 1970s, when two Albany families – the Vetters and the Popes – were able to save the home.

This home with three porches features leaded glass windows facing north, original doors and hardware (including the second-floor gothic door) and many rooms with original flooring. There is an intriguing second-floor landing that looks into the large country kitchen. The Carpenter Gothic style is a more modest style than homes built later in the nineteenth century and certainly this home has had many additions and changes. But it retains its original charm and warmth by owners who have lovingly improved it over the years. 

  1. Thompson House
    c. 1885, Rural Vernacular
    839 5th Ave. SW
    Stephanie Newton & Scott Azorr

A Rural Vernacular Farmhouse-style home built in 1885, the Thompson House also has Eastlake and Queen Anne architectural elements.  It retains the original built-ins in the dining room and early 1900s light fixtures in the living room, and the large front porch sports an impressive porch swing. The furnishings reflect Stephanie’s eclectic style with eco-friendly second-hand décor. Also of interest is the acid-etched image of a woman in a pane of glass and the original deed and tax records to the home.

  1. Conner House
    1859, Colonial Revival
    914 5th Ave SW

    Homeowners: Kim & Erik Christensen

The Connor House was built in 1859 by John Conner, the first banker in Albany, and who also was one of the founders of Albany College (which later moved to Portland and became Lewis & Clark College). The house boasted a 300-foot hitching post and livery stable, being a social spot for much of Albany.

The Connor house was extensively remodeled in 1900. This is when it went from the farm style to a Colonial Revival, which was in fashion for the time.

Erik and Kimberly Christensen have owned the Conner house past 13 years, after relocating to Albany from Seattle. Having family in the antique business, furnishings are in the traditional theme and compliment the house throughout. The home boasts several collections of: vintage china and stemware; artwork; sporting equipment from days gone by; and an extensive collection of antique and vintage holiday decorations collected through Erik and Kimberly’s 30-plus years together.

Areas of interest in the Home include:

  • The house foundation was raised up in 1900, when the sawdust-burning furnace was installed. The basement has full-size windows and currently accommodates an updated space to include a “man cave,” a 380-bottle wine cellar, shop, laundry room, paint and moldings room, firewood storage, doggy lounge and a gift wrapping station.
  • Seth French of French’s Jewelers in downtown Albany owned the house for over 25 years. In 1940, Seth tore down a wing on the house to build the first two-car attached garage in Albany. The original dark wood garage doors from the house have been incorporated in the home’s basement, serving as a hallway to the cellar today.
  • The house has been updated throughout the years with the addition of updated plumbing, automatic sprinklers, electrical, and central gas heat and air-conditioning. Many of the original windows have been restored as well. The double hung windows on the third floor provide great ventilation and a good view of the summer gardens. The balcony over the front porch was lovingly repaired and the columns reproduced by Erik Christensen with the help of a family friend.
  1. Research in Progress
    c. 1915, Craftsman Bungalow
    924 5th Ave. SW
    Homeowners: Joyce & Kenny Drake

This attractive home was built around 1915 to 1920, where a livery stable once stood. A rusted horseshoe was unearthed by the family a few years back when digging in the backyard. The home was bought as a kit house for the daughter of the family next door, who lived in what is now the Conner House, which is also on this tour. Unfortunately, all records from the time of the house’s beginnings were lost. The home has had a couple owners over the years and the Drakes purchased it in 1997 from former Olympian and Linn County Parks Director Dyrol Burleson. The Drakes had a new porch installed a couple of years ago but other than that the house is mostly original.

 

8 Comments on “2020 Christmas Porch Tour

  1. I’m so excited to go on this tour! Albany is awesome with its antique stores and beautiful historic homes BUT seeing it all dressed up at Christmas is the best! I plan to tour this with my three grown children! Thank you!

    • Hi Deb,
      We think it’s a pretty special time of year and a wonderful tour too! We hope you have lots of fun with your family.
      Albany Visitors Associaiton

  2. We are so lucky to have so many gorgeous homes in Albany. What could be better? The same gorgeous homes all dressed up for the Christmas holiday! Thank you for putting this all together!

    • Thank you and our thanks to the hard-working people on the Albany Historic Interior Home Tour Committee, volunteers, and enthusiastic homeowners!

    • Hi,
      Thank you for your interest in this event. The list of participants in the Night Time Magic Holiday Contest will be available December 10th and the Porch Tour will be available December 11th.

  3. I have been so disapointed knowing Parlor Tour was not going to happen this year. It’s one of the highlights for me during the Christmas season. Thank you for making this year merry with all the challenges of 2020.

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