New feature rises up in famed Davis Graveyard
Families from miles around flock to the Ardenwald-Johnson Creek neighborhood each Halloween season to view perhaps the most spookily themed private home in the region: the Davis Graveyard.
In addition to even more tombstones this year, homeowners Chris and Jeff Davis have sold "The Abbey" and have replaced it with the "Towering Chapel."
"We're celebrating our 20th year this season," Jeff Davis said. "It started with my wife decorating for Halloween the first year with a couple of pumpkins and a few store-bought decorations, and the display spun more out of control every year since."
Creating the "Towering Chapel" was a major project, the Davises agreed. "We've been planning this project for a couple of years, so we came up with a design but we realized we'd need a way to pay for the cost of a lot of Styrofoam and tools," Jeff said.
"So we applied for and received grants from the Clackamas County Arts Alliance and the Milwaukie Tourism Board, sold 'the Abbey,' and added to the investment with our own funds to build this really big chapel over the summer, which now graces our driveway."
It looks like carved stone, but it's all Styrofoam — sealed and detailed with exterior house paint from Metro Recycled Paints. It was created in sections and assembled like a "giant Lego project."
There also are some 75 tombstones on the property now, all with funny and witty epitaphs — a motif originally inspired, the Davises say, by Disneyland's "Haunted Mansion."
"It's nice to read the comment cards people leave for us. Many tell us they bring their family and friends every year to see what's new, and to enjoy the free display," Jeff said.
Come November, the haunted yard will vanish over the first weekend with the assistance of two dozen volunteers who help them set it up and later put it away each season.
"We're glad people enjoy it. For us, it's about the artistic expression, being creative and coming up with new things," Jeff said.
The Davis Graveyard is at 8703 S.E. 43rd Ave., on the corner of Southeast Johnson Creek Boulevard.
Learn more about the couple's spooky hobby, including the classes they offer, at DavisGraveyard.com