CHICO – If you’re looking for a musical treat, not a trick, this Halloween look no further than the Emmons House on Autumnwood Drive.
Dick Emmons, an 86-year-old retired music teacher, installed a huge church-style pipe organ in his home. Every year on Halloween, he dresses in black clothes and a cape and plays organ music from his music room, which has been converted from a garage.
Emmons bought the pipe organ from a Catholic church in Martinez in 1987. Church staff decided to get rid of it.
The organ console and Emmons pipes are period, dating from 1939. He and his wife, Leona Emmons, have lived in their house since 1997. They are both graduates of the State of Chico. Dick Emmons majored in music education. He became a music teacher and taught elementary, middle and high school in Sacramento and the Bay Area. One of his Chico State music teachers was none other than Bob Laxson, whose Laxson Auditorium is named.
“You know you’re getting old when buildings are named after people who taught you in college,” Dick Emmons said.
Dick Emmons was Minister of Music at First Baptist Church in Richmond. He started playing the piano in fifth grade and played tuba as a student at Chico State. He performed in his high school group and in the Chico State Orchestra.
Emmons enjoys listening to classical music as a hobby. Some of his favorite songs to play are “The Addams Family Theme” as well as songs from Phantom of the Opera and songs from Disney such as “It’s A Small World”. He’s been playing Halloween night for visitors for 24 years. He and Leona Emmons have set up chairs in their music room, and Halloween visitors come in, sit and listen. The couple get up to 100 tricks or treats on Halloween night.
“I’m going to stop playing and there will be a semicircle of people listening,” Dick Emmons said.
The Emmon have three sons, one who lives in Chico, one in Elk Grove, and one in Colorado. Their children are also inclined to music. Their son in Colorado is a conductor. Another son and his granddaughter are playing at church.
Dick and Leona Emmons have both performed in church choirs and also in barber choirs.
Emmons practices the organ daily, usually for two hours in the morning. He plays at the Evangelical Free Church of Chico, where he shares the organ duties.
When he and Leona Emmons were looking for a home, one of their requirements was that they needed a place to put the pipe organ.
Dick Emmons loves to play the organ.
“I feel satisfied and accomplished,” Dick Emmons said of his pipe organ playing.
The Emmons house is located at 1090 Autumnwood Drive in Chico.