WATSONVILLE—The outside of the historic Tuttle Mansion is currently adorned with electric Christmas lights for the first time ever.

While the iconic Watsonville home, designed by architect William Weeks, seems like the perfect structure for holiday decorations, there is a reason why it hasn’t undergone the treatment before.

“This house is 120 years old,” said Kathy Oliver, owner of the mansion and Oliver Property Management, which resides within. “There are no outside outlets. We can’t just hook things up.”

Strings of lights that now line certain parts of the mansion’s exterior are solar powered—taking energy from the sun during the day and lighting up at night.

“Solar is getting stronger and is more longer-lasting than ever,” she said.

Kathy and twin sister and co-owner Jeniffer Oliver have been preparing the mansion for a holiday event this weekend. “Pictures with Santa at the Historic Tuttle Mansion” will be held Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For a $20 donation, visitors can trek to the mansion’s second floor and take a photograph with Santa Claus.

All proceeds will be donated to local nonprofit organizations. Saturday’s funds will be given to Youth N.O.W., an after-school student center providing no-cost academic support for students in Watsonville. Sunday benefits the Santa Cruz County Animals Shelter—guests are invited to bring their pets.

“We didn’t get to do anything for Halloween this year,” Kathy said. “So we thought, let’s go all-out on Christmas… do something big that helps the community.”

Oliver Property Management, founded by Kathy and Jeniffer’s father, is in the midst of celebrating 50 years. The event is part of that. Guests who donate the $20 will receive a commemorative anniversary glass and Martinelli’s products. 

A selfie station will be set up and the sisters may also take guests on “mini-tours” of the mansion. Carriage House Collectibles, which runs out of the mansion’s old carriage house, will also be open.

Kathy made sure to give credit to Central Coast Painting’s Michael and Chris Hernandez for helping spruce up the mansion before the event.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” she said. “It was quite an undertaking.”

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