A journey that began against a Rocky Mountain backdrop, wound through California’s hippie culture, and detoured to Washington, D.C. now brings holiday ornaments produced by the White House Historical Association to The Woodlands at Furman. Emily Melton and her husband Bert Wakeley are proud to display an impressive collection that started during Emily’s days in the country’s capital.
Though she now calls Greenville home, Emily started life in Kalispell, Montana. After graduating from the University of Montana with a journalism degree, she headed west. “I went to San Francisco for several years in the late 60s and early 70s,” Emily recalls. “I, by accident, was in Haight-Ashbury in 1967 during the Summer of Love. It was interesting.”
Enthusiasm for politics prompted Emily to leave California and return to her home state, where she eventually worked for two Montana governors. Her efforts there led to a position on the staff of a Montana senator in Washington, D.C. and later into the world of publishing. “Our [Kiplinger] offices were four blocks from the White House, and the White House Historical Association was between us,” says Emily. “I happened in on the White House Historical Association one day and noticed that they had these ornaments for sale.” She was hooked.
Emily’s first purchase was in 1987, when that year’s ornament honored President John Quincy Adams and featured a replica of the White House’s double mahogany doors. An avid gardener, Adams had a passion for protecting trees that is reflected in the sandstone carvings of acorns and oak leaves on the door’s portal. The ornament’s poinsettias and evergreen wreaths also serve as a nod to Adams’s green thumb.
The White House Historical Association debuted the Christmas Ornament Collection in 1981 with a golden Angel in Flight and has created a unique ornament each year since. The 2018 piece honors President Harry S. Truman with a design that celebrates the namesake Truman Balcony and the White House’s Blue Room, which was renovated during Truman’s presidency. In addition to the annual ornaments, the association has produced special-edition pieces such as depictions of the North and South Porticoes of the White House.
And you can see them all in perfect condition! Emily kept her ornaments in their original packaging for years and only recently opened them to display each one in a shadow box at The Woodlands. Each ornament is displayed with a short description. After you take a walk through America’s presidential history, check out the activities calendar to see what other holiday fun awaits at The Woodlands at Furman!