The Aberdeen Mansion, 807 North M St., is fully and festively decorated for the holidays and the public is welcome to see how its owners are marking the season.
There will be tours this Thursday, Dec. 22, and Dec. 29. Each start at 6 p.m. and the $10 per-person ticket price benefits the Aberdeen Lions Club.
“We want to help the Lions Club raise money so they can do good things for the community,” said Joan Waters, who along with her husband, Al, have owned the mansion since 1998.
It takes weeks to fully decorate the four-story structure for the holidays. Christmas lights alone are a major undertaking for the couple. Long-time Aberdeen residents have told them they are the first occupants of the historic residence who decorate the exterior with Christmas lights.
“We spend weeks just checking strands of lights to make sure they work,” she said. “And replacing all of the burned-out bulbs on the ones that don’t.”
Some other displays require electricity. For example, there are four Christmas trees. And small models of old-fashioned dwellings and businesses at Christmastime are carefully arranged on numerous shelves and some tables. Each of those also light up.
“Our electric bill goes up pretty high during the holidays,” she said. “The outside lights are on from 5 to 11 p.m. We have them set on a timer.”
It would be too difficult and wildly impractical to even attempt to decorate in a manner that would be historically accurate for 1905 — the year the grand home was built, she pointed out.
“For example, you just didn’t do outdoor decorations a century ago. It’s something that came many years later.”
The Christmas decorations are in keeping with the home’s decor: tasteful, timeless and not trendy.
The couple operated the Aberdeen Mansion as a bed and breakfast for a decade and have made cosmetic changes to every room at least once since they took up residence there. Grass cloth on some walls was removed. Yellow and brown appliances in the kitchen were replaced.
“We’ve painted every room, refurbished floors, tore-up carpet,” she remembered.
These days, the Waterses limit rentals to long-term guests and a select number of events. But they relish opportunities to show off the mansion to the community.
They will wear Victorian themed costumes as they lead these tours and talk about the history of Aberdeen and holiday traditions from the early 20th century. They will invite guests to enjoy spiced cider and cookies in the formal dining area after each of the 90-minute tours.
“We want to share the house with the Aberdeen public, to let them have a chance to experience the house,” Waters said.
Greater Grays Harbor Inc., describes these Aberdeen Mansion tours as a continuation of summer walking tours leading participants through the streets of downtown Aberdeen and Broadway Hill historic home district. Tickets are available for purchase at the Greater Grays Harbor office in Aberdeen or purchased by check or cash on the day of the tour at the Aberdeen Mansion.
The mansion was added to the Aberdeen Historic Register in May 2014.