Lisa and Stew Pickford live in this Queen Ann-style home on Avenue B in Snohomish, which was originally constructed in 1890. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Lisa and Stew Pickford live in this Queen Ann-style home on Avenue B in Snohomish, which was originally constructed in 1890. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Holiday decoration inspiration (or envy) in Snohomish

The Snohomish Christmas Parlor Tour on Dec. 10 features historic homes decorated to the hilt.

SNOHOMISH — Why stop at one Christmas tree when you can decorate a dozen?

Makes perfect sense to Lisa Pickford, who has amassed enough trimmings to deck the walls and halls in addition to the festival of trees in her home.

Everywhere you look are lights, ornaments and holiday action. It’s almost like stepping into a charming Christmas shop rather than a home.

Explore her wonderland at the Snohomish Christmas Parlor Tour on Dec. 10. The 1890 Queen Anne-style home is one of the favorite attractions on the annual self-guided tour of historic structures decorated for the holidays.

“It is back by popular demand,” said Snohomish Historical Society spokesman Chris Gee. “People ask for it.”

Each tree is hand-decorated by Pickford, who methodically unwraps and positions every ornament herself. Her husband, Stew, watches but knows better than to get in her way.

“I used to start the day after Thanksgiving, but I’m getting older and slower so I start after Halloween,” said Pickford, 77. “It gives me more time to enjoy it.”

Each tree has a theme: Sleighs. Fairies. Snowmen. Star Wars, topped with a musical Death Star. In the kitchen, mice hang from a tree, which is better than finding them in a cabinet.

Villages include Charlie Brown, Grinch, North Pole and Dickens. Angels hang from the garland-graced doorways. Nutcrackers stand at the ready in formation on the floor.

Every surface is covered. Everything is arranged in meticulous order.

“It’s my OCD,” Pickford said.

The Pickfords moved into the majestic home on Avenue B in 2001. It has a steep-pitched roof, large windows and elaborate architectural detailing in seven paint colors. Rooms have high ceilings, crown moldings, fir floors and colorful stained-glass windows.

On the wall in the foyer is a list of previous occupants, dating back to pioneer Emory Ferguson, “The Father of Snohomish,” who acquired the lot in 1883 and sold it to local jeweler Lewis Hensel. Pickford made a large shadowbox with silver spoons, dishes, beads, a pipe, old wire and other artifacts left behind or found in the yard, walls and crevices.

“We lived in a lot of older homes,” she said. “We lived in a 1910 bungalow in Wallingford, and then we lived in a 1902 three-story in Capitol Hill. Now we’re back in 1890. We sort of went backward in time.”

Why did they choose Snohomish?

“It was close to the radio-controlled airfield where Stew used to fly planes in those days,” she said. “We wanted to get out of Seattle. It was starting to get more crowded. It was getting to be like New York.”

Pickford retired from the parking division office at University of Washington, where her husband was a forestry professor. They have two sons and six grandchildren.

“I just love old houses,” she said. “You learn all about their quirks, and invest a heck of a lot of money and time to keep them going.”

But it’s worth it.

“They’re comfortable. You don’t feel like they’re going to wobble and fall down on you like the new stuff. They’re small rooms, but I can sure cram a lot of Christmas into them.”

Opening her home for tours fits with her philosophy.

“We sort of feel like caretakers of these old houses,” she said. “It’s not like we just own them; that it’s just ours and you can’t come in. It is something that can be shown to people; how people lived and the architecture and everything about it.”

Snohomish Christmas Parlor Tour

See historic homes decorated for the holidays from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 10. Cost is $15 general admission, $12 for seniors and youth. Each ticket includes a tour map with directions to each showcased home. Buy tickets at McDaniel’s Do It Center, Joyworks and Annie’s On First in advance or at the Waltz Building the day of the tour.

Call 360-568-5235 or go to for more.

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