The Cross House

2016. The Year-End Update. THE HOUSE.




Has there ever been such a year?

2016 is the year that the Heritage Trust Grant work commenced! This involved relining the miles of built-in gutters, installing new shingles on all the secondary roofs, restoring about 2/3 of the 42 stained-glass windows, and replacing rotted sills, rotted water-table trim, rotted sheathing, and rotted siding.

All this work should be complete by the end of January. Only a month late.

The other great effort was painting the Great North Wall. This was supposed to happen in 2015 but the Gods vexed me so and the scaffolding tower remained unclimbed. Sigh. Oh great sigh! But, the tower was climbed this year!

2016 was also about a lot of discoveries! A lot! There were wondrous lighting discoveries, wallpaper discoveries, hardware discoveries, and doors and lost features and so many things! Golly, it was often quite breathless!


2016 began with a significant realization: the Cross House did not originally have gas lighting, but gas/electric combination fixtures. And the house may have been the first house in the city with electricity, or certainly one of the first. This realization came about because of a single gas nipple to the right of the parlor fireplace. I thought: WHAT is that? And then all hell broke loose.


The realization had a huge impact on my plans and I knew I would never install the gas lighting I had been collecting, or the early electric lighting. No, I would sell all these fixtures and buy only gas/electric fixtures. Today, most of the rooms feature gas/electric chandeliers, such as the parlor.


And a beauty it be. I love love love it.


First on the Heritage Trust list was the relining of all the built-in gutters, which Groh & Sons did.


Groh also installed new shingles on all the secondary roofs. Of vital importance to me was that the shingles on the curved portions follow the curve, rather than be installed in pie-shaped sections as they had been.


The porch roof and octagon tower are done. The finial on the round tower has been removed for restoration. The new shingles were selected to work with the 1920s cementitious tiles on the main roof. These will last till the end of time and it seemed unwise to remove them.


And, drum roll, please, the work is done! Oh baby, this is SO exciting! The finial is back! AND a finial once again graces the octagon tower, after it was recreated by WF Norman!


It was a dramatic, and very hot, moment when the finial was returned to its perch.


In February, a YouTube video of the Cross House was posted by Elizabeth, who created Circa, a delicious blog about old houses for sale. As of today, the video has been watched almost 66,000 times, WAY up from 33 in February!


The Cross House has a astonishing 42 stained-glass windows, and their condition ranges from poor to spectacularly abused. As part of the Heritage Trust work…


…about 2/3 were restored in 2016 by Hoefer Stained Glass. Thanks, Scott! Thanks, Eric!


My excitement overflows!!!!!!!!


In 2015 one stained-glass window was sucked out by the wind and smashed to the ground. My heart felt punched.


In 2016, my heart was made happy again when the restored window was reinstalled. I spent a long time just staring at this wonder, awestruck.


Work commenced on the east side of the house, and the demolition of the poorly built and non-original basement enhance shed.


It is not missed. The first-floor extension is where most of the rot and termite damage was concentrated, and most of its siding is being renewed, its wood sill has now been replaced, it water-table trim is being recreated, and much of its sheathing now replaced. There will soon be AFTER images! Stay tuned!


A massive new beam was installed in the entry hall to support a scarily sagging floor.


Oh, see the octagon tower? See how its upper window sashes are also missing? Well, not for much longer now!
New diamond-paned windows were made for the main dormer, recreating a lost feature. This was part of the Heritage Trust grant. Oh, see the octagon tower? See how its upper window sashes were also missing?


No longer! These were restored. Thanks, also, Heritage Trust!


Each side of the entry doors was cluttered with non-original sconces and electrical boxes.


And these affronts to decency were vanquished.


And the doors were…


And the AFTER.


As was the oak threshold.


I have done several posts about refinishing the threshold of the main entrance. It was painted gray. The images I have posted showed the outer solid doors open. But with them closed, they nicely pick up the newly revealed oak threshold. Yummy.
Behold: BEFORE!


And AFTER! The closed doors nicely pick up the newly revealed oak threshold, which I did not notice till today. Yummy.
Behold: AFTER!


When 2016 began most of the pocket doors did not really open/close. Well, they did, but only after doing battle with them each time. Sigh. But then I found the amazing Stephen, who advised me how to remove the doors, and then he custom made…


…new “yokes”. Now, rather than do battle with the doors, we engage in a lovely ballet. The pleasure is great, indeed.


A forest of scaffolding, kissing the sky, was erected to paint the Great North Wall.


And the Big Gable was painted!


And the “diamond brooch” was painted! And five medallions were installed along the bottom, recreating a lost feature! Then, the six stained-glass windows, gloriously restored, were put back in place. I gasp.




And more paint.


Guys what I did today?
Sometimes more than painting is required.


And made right again.


And more paint.
And more paint.


And more.


Tragically, I was unable to finish the entirety of the Great North Wall. Work will resume in April.


The lost floor on the south porch was recreated, and the glass infill panels removed. Once again, the porch is open to the weather as intended. Hi Justin!


ZOUNDS! A single section of railing was recreated!!!!!!!! I was sure the rest would all be installed by the end of the year. Time proved me wrong. Sign. So, 2017…!


Small pleasures. A non-original configuration in the butler’s pantry…


…back to their original location! OMG! Sooooooo much better! The room looks MUCH taller, too! It was all rather effortless as the hinges all fitted perfectly into their original locations. I now need to recreate the lost two drawers and missing counter. When I eventually actually own good china I will take out the plywood infill panels and replace them with glass.
…was made right. I now need to recreate two lost two drawers and a missing counter. When I eventually actually own good china I will remove the plywood infill panels and replace them with glass, as the upper doors had originally.


The circa-1950s oak floors in the parlor and library were at last sanded, and, in a twist, stained in wide stripes. To my utter amazement I received not a single criticism (yet!) of this decision when I did a post on the work!


When I purchased the house, 2014.
To sum up: When I purchased the house, 2014.


August 2016.



What a year! My only disappointments are that the Great North Wall was not finished, and all the main porch railings not installed. But these disappointed are not too much. More a big sigh kinda disappointment rather than knocking myself with a brick.

Now, Part Two is next. And it is a doozy.

You might want some wine first.



13 Responses to 2016. The Year-End Update. THE HOUSE.

  1. So when the heat of restoration hell starts creeping up, come back and reread this post!

    It’s been quite a year, in all aspects.

  2. What you’ve accomplished this year is awesome! Seeing it all summarized really drove it home. May 2017 be just as productive and satisfying.

    BTW – I love the wide stripes on the floor. That was a stroke of genius.

  3. With well over 25 above mentioned projects I think you should pat yourself on the back. That’s 1 project every two weeks.. researched… planned.. and completed. That is AMAZING. I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings for the Cross house. With your determination I’m sure it will be wonderful. ♡

  4. It’s good to look back on your progress, as it really shows what you’ve accomplished. Us restorers are always looking ahead to the next project, which can be daunting when they’re all in view, and it can be easy to overlook how much has been accomplished. Look back and bask in it: you’ve earned it!

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you accomplish again in 2017. I’m sure it will be impressive once again!

  5. Ross, this post made me smile on a day that I am having trouble finding anything worth smiling about. Thank you for that…and let’s look forward to 2017, the year that the “historically accurate and spectacular looking” porch railings reappear! Best wishes to you and your beautiful house…

  6. I have to admit–every time I see the stained glass windows cleaned, restored, and in their black sashes, I become entirely too giddy. Stunning, truly.

    • One of my great joys is seeing the SG windows restored. I often wander through the rooms with the finished windows and just beam.

  7. Not to sound glum or stupid, but is there something you can do with the original 1929 roof tiles to get them all one color or uniform? Can they be powerwashed then stained? I don’t know I am just guessing here. But the roof tiles look like they could have something done to them. Is there anything you can do for that? Sorry. Just my two cents on a most magnificent job you are doing.

    I love looking at your blog as well as others of old 18-century homes. My mom and I used to go drive by, look at or pay to go look at walk through these “old ladies” (that is what they were called in San Diego).

    Your blog inspires me to love my 1985-built colonial. Think “Home Alone”. I have removed four layers of wallpaper in 90% of the rooms, re-skimmed badly taped and plastered walls. I too am OCD about MY HOME renovation. My husband believes I am anal about the whole thing. My kids say no, Dad just wants to do half-ass as the other previous owners have done. They see I am fixing what other owners have just slapped and painted. My kids and I have actually had to fix my husband’s half-ass work. So I just do it with pure joy and really bringing out the beauty of the home like when it was originally built. You remind me, that, no I am not crazy anal. I am appreciative of what is there and what it could become. As you are.

    Thanks for chronicling this event for us. You inspire all of us.

    Sincerely watching and reading and wishing I could just sit there and work on your wood trim in your home.

    Kindred spirit in Georgia.

    If ever I am in Emporia, Kansas,I will drop a line and get permission to come see you and your home.


    • Hi Mary!

      You do, indeed, seem a kindred spirit!

      The 1920s roofing tiles can be stained, and this is something I have considered. And may do at some point! It will be very cheap if I do it, and scary expensive if I hire the work out!

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