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Christmas decorations, gifted antique organ set up historic home for holiday tours

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Torry Johnson, left, donated the pictured organ to the Scappoose Historical Society and Watts House. Johnson delivered the organ to Scappoose Historical Society President Karen Holmberg on Tuesday, Nov. 26.Preparations for the holiday season at the historic Watts House were well underway this week.

Volunteers with the Scappoose Historical Society and Watts House busily decorated every room in the house, which is now open for holiday tours.

On Tuesday, Nov. 26, the Watts House received an early Christmas gift: an antique organ. The organ was in the Watts House more than half a century ago.

"It's back home," Scappoose Historical Society President and Curator Karen Holmberg said.

Torry Johnson, who gave the organ to the Watts House, had been looking for somewhere to donate it for years. Evelyn Hudson, who has known Johnson since they were childhood classmates, helped facilitate the donation.PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Volunteers carefully move the organ into the Watts House. The organ is operational, though it hasnt been played in decades.

"We've been tripping over it for 20 years," Johnson said Tuesday, as he and friends delivered the organ, which now sits right inside the front door.

In 1961, when Johnson was a high school junior, Irene Watts offered up the organ, on the condition that he not tell anyone where he got it. Johnson's mother had wanted the organ for years, but Irene had initially refused to give it up. PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Earlier this week, volunteers worked hard to put the finishing touches on Christmas decorations at the historic Watts House.

"Well now, that was quite some time ago and I've hauled that old pump organ all over the place and never broken my promise, almost," Johnson wrote in a letter as he searched for a new home for the organ.

Several people donating their time were hard at work at the Watts House on Tuesday. Among those was Jim Mallen, a lifelong woodworker who recently made a custom frame for an antique painting of Chapman Landing given to the Watts House.

Christmas decorating faced a hiccup earlier this month when the planned decorator had a personal emergency that rendered the decorator unable to participate.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Decorations at the Watts House arent limited to main rooms. Even bathrooms feature holiday decorations, including a mushroom-adorned tree.Volunteers, led by Holmberg, had their work cut out for them, setting up elaborate Christmas trees, nativity scenes and more.

On Friday, Nov. 29, the Watts House opens for tours. The house is open for viewings and tours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 29 between 4 and 8 p.m.

The Watts House is located next to Heritage Park at 52432 SE First St., Scappoose.PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - A teddy bear gets cozy in a rocking chair in the maid's room at the Watts House.


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