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It's the annual Hallowe'en display that's helping to make Johnson Creek Boulevard famous

DAVID F. ASHTON - The expensive new feature at the Davis Graveyard this year, the Towering Chapel, looms in the distance. Families from miles around flock to the Ardenwald-Johnson Creek neighborhood each the Hallowe'en season to view perhaps the most spookily-themed private home in the region: The Davis Graveyard.

"It's not a not a walk-through haunted house or maze; but instead, we present a free home Hallowe'en display through November 3," explained a genial Chris Davis about the family's spirited yard décor.

In addition to even more tombstones this year, Chris and Jeff Davis, the homeowners, sold "The Abbey" and now have replaced it with the "Towering Chapel".

"We're celebrating our 20th year, this season," smiled Jeff Davis. "It started with my wife decorating for Hallowe'en 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 Davis' 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 told THE BEE.

"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 own 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 are also some 75 tombstones on the property now, all with funny and witty epitaphs – a motif originally inspired, the Davis' 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 remarked.

Come November, the haunted yard will vanish over the first weekend, with the help of two dozen volunteers who help them set it up, and later help 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 may be found at 8703 S.E. 43rd Avenue, on the corner of S.E. Johnson Creek Boulevard.

Learn more about the Davis' spooky hobby, including about the classes they offer, online – www.DavisGraveyard.com

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