Hand-dipped candles and tiny cornucopias made out of paper lace adorn a small tree in the Crosby House in Tumwater. Bright-red, velvety bows and fresh-cut cedar bows line the fireplace and shutters.
Built in 1860, the two-story house is dressed up in its finest for Sunday’s Holiday Tour of Historic Homes, an annual fundraiser for the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.
Members of the Olympia Chapter No. 4 of the Daughters of the Pioneers, which manages the Crosby House Museum, spent Friday cleaning floors, weeding flowerbeds, and dusting and decorating the home with Christmas items that match its Victorian era.
“It’s just kind of simple, like they would have done,” said Ann Olson, president of the chapter.
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This year’s tour features six historic properties in South Sound, including the well-known Crosby House and Bigelow House museums, according to Shanna Stevenson, vice president of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.
Several of the homes in this year’s tour were built in the 1940s and 1950s. One is a Tumwater Lumber Mills Co. home.
“They were a company that manufactured kits for houses, and there were lots of them built around Olympia,” Stevenson said. “This is an especially good example.”
Some of the participating homeowners decorate in the era that their home was built in, and some don’t.
Jennifer Cahill said her home at 822 Governor Stevens Ave. SE in Olympia is decked out with a mixture of holiday decorations.
“I have embraced our midcentury basement family room — complete with pine paneling — and have decorated a small tree with funky little felt ornaments from my husband’s childhood in the ’60s,” she said. “They make a fun, kitschy statement when they are all grouped altogether. The rest of the house is a more traditional look, with a nod to the Craftsman era, which I love, too.”
Lauren Danner said her home, at 2932 Maringo Road SE in Olympia, features modern and traditional Christmas decorations as well. It includes a display of 45 nutcrackers, ornaments her family has acquired around the world, wreaths and a custom ornament tree.
Danner said she’s excited about participating in the tour. Her house was built in 1950, and was the home of Trueman and Virginia Schmidt. Trueman was the grandson of Leopold Schmidt, founder of the Olympia Brewing Co.
“We want to share this extraordinary home and love having visitors, so being on the tour was a no-brainer,” Danner said. “We hope everyone enjoys our midcentury marvel.”
This is the first year the Crosby House has participated in the tour.
“We just thought it would be a fun opportunity,” Olson said.
The house was built for pioneers Nathaniel and Cordelia Crosby. His family arrived in the Northwest by sea, and her family came out on the Oregon Trail.
“It’s like the most wonderful love story in the world,” said Beverly York as she helped decorate the Crosby House last week.
Olson said it’s unknown whether the couple’s famous grandson, Harry “Bing” Crosby, ever visited the home, which was later owned by Dr. Nathaniel Ostrander, who had a medical practice and drug store in Tumwater.
The Olympia Chapter No. 4 of the Daughters of the Pioneers acquired the house in the 1940s; its ownership was later transferred to the city of Tumwater, although the Daughters maintain it.
It is listed on the city, state and national historic registers. The house is open for public tours on Sunday afternoons from April to October, and by special appointment. Many of its antique furnishings were donated by local families.
“I love the rich history (of the house),” York said. “Just love it.”
If you go
What: 2015 Holiday Tour of Historic Homes, a fundraiser that supports historic preservation and efforts of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.
When: Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 6).
Tickets: $15 each, and will be available day of tour at the Bigelow House, 918 Glass Ave. NE, Olympia, or the Crosby House, 702 Deschutes Way, Tumwater. Advance tickets can be picked up at Drees, 524 Washington St. SE, Olympia; Popinjay, 414 Capitol Way S., Olympia; and Thompson Furniture, 5407 Capitol Blvd., Tumwater.
Participating homes: Go to http://olympiahistory.org/wp/2015-holiday-tour-of-homes/
Information: Go to www.olympiahistory.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.