Pajaro Valley Historical Association board member and volunteer Virginia Avila shows off the Bockius-Orr House's dining room. —Johanna Miller/The Pajaronian

Come December, the Bockius-Orr House and Gardens at the Pajaro Valley Historical Association (PVHA) on West Beach Street will be decorated more than ever before, with strands of garland, Christmas touches and twinkling lights adorning the nearby oak trees.

This year, PVHA’s annual No-Attendance Mail-In Raffle, which is now ongoing, will include a prize of a private Holiday Dinner at PVHA. This has prompted staff and volunteers to go “all out” decorating the historic home.

“We’re really going to decorate the house from top to bottom,” said Jodi Frensley, office administrator at PVHA. “During Covid, it was hard for us to not be able to do the Christmas Tea that we used to do every year. So now we’re really going to light up the house.”

Raffle winners will enjoy a private, catered dinner (at a total value of $1,200) prepared by Ken and Cathy Schwann for up to eight people on Dec. 10. The event was donated by Chuck and Ramona Allen and Dominic and Martha Muzzi.

Other raffle prizes include Yosemite and Sedona, Arizona getaways, a Golf Package, a Wine Package and “Night on the Town” packages featuring local dining options.

Applications can be picked up at PVHA now, and the raffle drawing will be held at the Bockius-Orr House on Oct. 26 at 1:30pm. 

“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” Frensley said. “We hope to generate a lot of interest.”

Currently, the dining room of the Bockius-Orr House, which was constructed in the 1870s, is decorated mostly in a Fall theme, with pumpkins, leaves and historic clothing of similar colors. Clothing and accessories from local residents, including the late Diane Porter Cooley, are on display.

Also set up near the main window is a Christmas Tree Dress, recently constructed by Frensley with PVHA volunteer and board member Virginia Avila. The dress is made up of garland and lights, which Frensley and Avila situated around a frame of chicken wire, to give the illusion of a Victorian silhouette. A blouse from the 1870s adorns the top of the mannequin, adding to the look.

“Instead of our basic Christmas tree, we thought we’d switch it up,” Avila said. “When the holidays approaches we’re going to decorate it even more.”

Another nearby room features a new display of antique dolls—some that were previously owned by former residents, including Charlotte Bockius.

“Charlotte actually lived in this house, and these were her dolls,” Avila said. “She played with them, and obviously took very good care of them.”

DOLL HOUSE A collection of dolls owned by Charlotte Bockius are now on display at PVHA. —Johanna Miller/The Pajaronian

Dolls of various sizes, shapes and materials, from numerous countries are included in the display. Many of them were donated directly to PVHA by local families. 

Avila said the collection is only a small portion of what the organization possesses, and that they hope to do another, larger exhibit sometime in the future. 

“We have a wonderful collection of Maylord dolls that we’d love to display,” she said.

The current Fall-themed display will remain up at PVHA through the middle of November. Many of the dolls and the Christmas Tree Dress will remain in place as the house pivots to the holidays.

PVHA, located at 332 East Beach St., is open Tuesday-Thursday from 11am-3pm or by special appointment. For information, call 722.0305 or visit

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Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


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