"Swan Hall" home raises money with holiday decorations | News

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"Swan Hall" home raises money with holiday decorations


A Victorian home in Portland held its last tours of the year for the public to experience the historic beauty covered in Christmas decorations.

Each year, John Carr, the owner of 555 Cumberland Avenue, decorates his home, known as "Swan Hall," with dozens of Christmas trees.

The Victorian house has a long history, and was built in 1886, according to the Windham Historical Society, and used to be a Young Women's Christian Association.

This year, Carr put up 15 different trees, each with a different theme.

"It started with one tree, and then five, and then seven, and as many as 22 before," said Carr. "The house likes being decorated."

There are trees in each room, including the second-floor bedrooms. Carr said he has put trees up in the third-floor bedrooms in the past. All the trees are artificial. Carr said it takes one to two hours to decorate one tree.

"I just have always enjoyed decorating it, and I never used to. I never had a Christmas tree until I owned this house," said Carr.

Adults can pay a suggested $10 donation, which this year, goes to the Windham Historical Society. In past years, it was helped the Portland Players, and Lyric, two theater groups in Portland. Children can get in for free. Each year, a different non-profit group receives the collections.

This year, Carr held tours for two weekends in December, led by guides from the Windham Historical Society, who dress and act as a maid and butler.

He said he enjoys seeing people's reaction as they tour the house.

"It's gratifying, because I forget. It just seems like my house to me, so I forget that people are impressed by it," said Carr. "It's gratifying to see that people enjoy it and they say it puts them in the Christmas spirit so that's a good feeling."

Carr said he moved in with the intention to turn the house into condominiums, but after seeing it's beauty, decided to restore it as a Victorian.


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