It’s not uncommon for Ken and Lois Deatherage to see curious passers-by peering through their front window.
Or for the couple to give an impromptu tour of their home when people mistake it for the historic Lane House.
“It’s not a big deal. We just say, ‘Come on in. We’ll show you around,’” said Ken Deatherage, 69.
The Deatherages live in the Simon Lane house next door to the better-known Lane House on Douglas Avenue in Roseburg. Attention increases around the holidays, as people pause to marvel at the lights and decorations that adorn both historic homes.
The houses were built in the late 1800s by the children of Gen. Joseph Lane, who was Oregon’s first territorial governor and one of the state’s first two U.S. senators.
Both houses remained in the family and were passed down through the generations, until the Lane House was given to the Douglas County Historical Society and the Simon Lane house sold to private homeowners in 1960.
Ken Deatherage and his wife, Lois, 72, bought the Simon Lane house from June Toles in 2007.
“People who own these houses say they don’t really feel like they live there. They feel like a caretaker for an old house,” Ken Deatherage said. “It’s just a neat place.”
A rough history of the Lane and Simon Lane houses and their occupants can be pieced together from county records, newspaper clippings and information from the Douglas County Historical Society.
Gen. Joseph Lane headed with his family from Indiana to Oregon in 1853.
The group settled in Winchester, where Lane’s son-in-law, John Creed Floed, and sixth child, Simon R. Lane, operated a trading post.
When the county seat moved from Winchester to Roseburg, the family also moved in 1859.
In 1866, a piece of property owned by Solomon and Hyman Abraham, brothers and businessmen in Roseburg, was deeded to the Floeds. The family finished building what has become known as the Lane House.
Another two-story home was later built on the property for Simon Lane and his family.
Simon’s daughter, Eva Lane Waite, and her husband, Douglas Waite, inherited the Lane House in 1925. Their daughter, Katherine Waite Bain, and her husband, Walter Marion Bain, got it in 1957.
In 1960, the Bains deeded the house to the historical society to establish a monument in honor of the Gen. Joseph Lane family.
“I just really like the reality of an old house and the history,” Ken Deatherage said.
Lois Deatherage said she used to walk by the house before she owned it and fell in love.
“For some reason, it just stood out from all the other places,” she said. “You just think about all the generations who have lived in this house.”
When the Deatherages moved in, they did their best to “un-modernize” the house, Ken Deatherage said.
They pulled up the carpet, refinished the hardwood floors and installed an early 1900s stove.
“We are trying to keep it in good shape for the next generation,” he said.
During the renovations, several people accidentally wandered into the house, thinking it was the Lane House, Ken Deatherage said.
The couple were more than willing to show them around.
Each Christmas, the Deatherages go all out decorating the two-story home inside and out.
“I go crazy overboard. I want it to look like Disneyland,” Lois Deatherage said.
The 14 artificial Christmas trees inside the house, each decorated a different color, are evidence of her quest.
The couple, with a few helpers, start decorating around Nov. 1. Lois Deatherage said she adds new decorations every year.
A business last year nominated the Deatherage’s house for the Umpqua Valley Arts Center Holiday Home Tour.
About 100 people walked through the house, Ken Deatherage said.
“People really appreciate it. It’s Jesus’ birthday. We should put a little light out there,” he said.
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.