Historical Christmas on display at Zimmerman House

Find out why a visit to this museum might be a fun and interesting destination for you this week …

Preserved as a historical place, the Zimmerman House is decked out for Holiday visitors.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Some may argue that the historic Zimmerman House is actually located in Gresham – but docents point out that, before the City of Portland annexed most of mid-County, the neighborhood area was called West Wilkes.

For several days, volunteers from the East County Historical Organization (ECHO) – formerly known as the Fairview-Rockwood-Wilkes Historical Society – set out Christmas decorations and prepared the Zimmerman House for guests on the evening of December 9, and again on December 16.

ECHO President Twila Mysinger and Vice President Dodi Davies say they enjoy sharing the Zimmerman House collection with visitors – especially during the Holidays.

“This is the third year we’ve opened the house for the Holidays,” said ECHO President Twila Mysinger.

“We like to show how the any of the three generations of the Zimmerman family might have decorated their home for the Holidays,” Mysinger told East Portland News as she picked up book about “Old Father Christmas”.

All of the artifacts in the house once belonged to those who lived there, including this antique Christmas book.

“The Zimmermans, who built the house in 1874, are the only people who’ve lived here,” Mysinger explained. “Everything you see, when you come to visit, are their belongings.”

ECHO Vice President Dodi Davies pointed out that the Zimmerman House is a “closed collection”. “This means that everything that is on display here belonged to the family; nothing is brought in to supplement the collection of 34,000 artifacts that the family accumulated over three generations.”

At Christmastime, and all through the year, the museum gives people the opportunity to see these historical artifacts. “Collections, such as this one, help us realize what has come before us – how people used to live – and how different it was in days gone by,” Mysinger said.

This is Isobel Faith Zimmerman’s room, on the second floor of the family home.

Instead of family members each hunkering down with their own smart phones or tablets, or being transfixed by the flickering screen of an Xbox 360 game, as might be the case today, the Zimmerman family’s diversions were simpler. “You see many different hobbies here in the house, from oil painting to Pyrography (wood-burning decoration), and more.”

When you visit the house, ask how the last remaining resident, Isobel Faith Zimmerman – a science and math teacher at Franklin High School for more than three decades – made sure the family home and former 60-acre dairy farm wouldn’t be sold off and destroyed to make way for a business park.

Volunteers will surprise you with their knowledge about many of the important artifacts in the house – ask what Isobel left behind that makes these so special, and gives the artifacts provenance.

ECHO volunteer Ann Homenick stands with the front-room Christmas tree.

You can experience “Holidays at the historic Zimmerman House” on December 16, from 3:00 until 8:00 p.m.

See the family’s furnishings, and the personal articles that remain, in this two-story Victorian home – including children’s toys, games, Christmas postcards, and winter clothing.

Parking is extremely limited, so consider car pooling. Please reserve the time you’d like to visit the House, and give yourself approximately 45 minutes to explore both floors of the home.

Volunteers assure you that you’ll feel welcome when you visit the historic Zimmerman House.

Admission is FREE, but the suggested donation for this special event is $5 per person 18 and older, cash and checks accepted. Reservations are FREE, but required: Get them at EventBright: CLICK HERE. The Zimmerman Heritage Farm is situated at 17111 NE Sandy Boulevard, just over the border in Gresham. For more information, email info@echohistory.org.

And, the Zimmerman House is also open on the third Saturday of every month from noon until 4:00 p.m.

For more information regarding the Zimmerman House, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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