The Cross House

2017. The Year-End Update. THE HOUSE.

2017. Wow. What a year.


All the work regarding the 2015 Kansas Heritage Trust Fund Grant was completed!

Then, in February, I was notified that the Cross House had been awarded a second full Heritage grant! As amazed as I was to receive the first grant, I was even more amazed to receive a second one. Wow. Wow!

I am enormously grateful, and would not have purchased the house if the Heritage program did not exist. While there was no guarantee that the house would be awarded a grant, I felt there was a good chance, so I rolled the dice, gritted my teeth, and prayed a lot to the historic Gods.



At the beginning of the year, the west facade was largely done, and the north facade was partially done. So, the great 2017 effort was to finish the latter. Finish the Great North Wall!

When this work was largely complete, I developed the uneasy awareness that something was…off. I realized that I had been too cautious, too wary of creating a painted lady. I also keep studying an 1895 image of the house and realized that the house had more colors than the 3-color job I had done. So, after much thought, numerous wrong turns, and a lot of help from readers, I ended up spending a lot of time “enhancing” the exterior by tweaking colors and adding some colors.

The results?

At a glance all looks the same.

But all is much richer. The house looks somehow fresher, more alive.


The west facade, 2016. All images hugely enlarge if you click on them, then click again.


The west facade, 2017. The exterior has been enhanced, with the porch gable repainted, some black pin striping added, the swag rectangles on the tower repainted, and…


…the column capitals artfully repainted, and the columns covered with clear gloss, and…


…the porch ceiling painted, shockingly, coral. I know! Wild! However, coral/pink was actually a common porch ceiling color in the 1890s. Who knew?


The Great North Wall, 2016.


And, 2017. I still need to get to the “eye”.


The ruined NE corner, 2016.


The NE corner, 2017.


In 2016, I discovered that the north third-floor upper windows were originally bordered with squares. This feature had been removed after this circa-1965 image was taken.


In 2017, I recreated this lost feature.


Fabulous. I think these small details make such a difference.




The parlor, 2016.


The parlor, 2017.






The window bay, 2014.


The window bay, 2017.


In November I had a Day After Thanksgiving family-of-choice dinner. I plan this to be an annual event.


In 2017, some lost features returned to the house, like the door on the left. My excitement was considerable.


Recently, I was able to do something about…


…the Worst Wall in the round bedroom.




The carriage house has been through a lot. It has been moved forward on the lot, raised in the air, had a basement placed under, its north wing cut off and rotated 90 degrees, and the entire first floor finished off as a home. But I had thought that the second floor was largely original. Oops. In 2017, I learned that the second floor was, almost certainly, a giant hayloft attic. Only the turret is original. All the dormers were added during the circa-1921 house conversion.




In 2016, RestoringRoss had 567,000 views.

In 2017, there have been 1,062,000 views.

Almost double.

A million+ views for a blog about an old house in Kansas seems astonishing.

I also must smile because a year ago I dared to post — EEK! — some political thoughts in my year-end Ross report (a 2017 Ross report will be posted tomorrow). One reader called me a pompous ass, and several readers stated that they would never again look at my blog, and also predicted a mass exodus of readers.

Well…that…did not…happen.

So, yes, I smile. I also feel bad for a mind that likes 99.9% of something yet just cannot handle the .1% they disagree with.

There have also been 12,000 comments since the blog started in the summer of 2014. And it has been a delight meeting all of you! I have tried to make people feel comfortable about expressing their opinions, and y’all have not been reticent about telling me that you hate the striped floors, are appalled by the color of the parlor walls, and thought I had lost my mind in deciding to enhance the exterior colors. Luckily however, y’all have been lavish in your praise, too! So, the former helps keep my head from getting too big!

Your comments have also changed the house. The parlor would not look like it does without your input, and the exterior enhancement was significantly helped by reader’s input.

So, thanks to all of you! BIG hugs and much love!



The 2017 Kansas Heritage Grant work will commence in 2018. This work will:

  • Fully restore the south facade.
  • Finish the final 1/3 of the stained-glass windows.
  • Finish all the clear-glass windows.
  • Re-point the north chimney.

This work is expected to be completed in 2019.

I am also going to try and move in at the end of 2018! This will depend on my finances, and if I can afford to finish getting the house heat-able and cool-able. Pray for me.



I tremendously enjoy working on the house and believe that this excitement carries through into my many blog posts.

However, I am concerned that a false impression is being created.

For, along with all the WHOEE and SQUEE are some heart-stopping moments. Moments involving finances.

I will be walking through the kitchen of my current house, for example, thinking about nothing when all of a sudden I feel a “wave” wash over me. The wave will stop me in my tracks, and utterly crush my spirit. I feel as if I am falling over and need to grip the counter edge.


These panic waves are unpredictable. I was once in the grocery store holding a box of cereal when a panic wave washed over me. I had to hold onto the shelving.

I knew going in that I could not afford to restore the house. It took my every penny and all my savings to just buy the house. While the Heritage grants have been a godsend, the grants reimburse. So, I have to spend the money, and then get reimbursed. This involves a great deal jumping over financial hoops to keep everything afloat and moving. And the stress can be intense.

Occasionally, I ponder how vastly different my life would be if I lived in a condo or something. Recently, I visited friends who live in a new house in a new suburban neighborhood. All was in perfect condition. There were no bomb-ruined rooms, no gaping holes in floors, and no scary wiring. There was a finished kitchen! And bathrooms! Bathrooms with clean fluffy towels!

Wandering through this monument to sensibility I kept thinking: What the fuck is wrong with me?

The next day though I was back at the Cross House. As I pulled into the drive I, once again, could not help but marvel at the house. For, my house has not one tower, but two! My house has an imposing limestone foundation! My house has many columns with delicious hand-carved capitals! My house had 42 stained-glass windows! My house has high ceilings! My house has rooms of fabulously odd shapes! My house has not one fireplace mantel but eight! Eight!

And…and…my house is also a massive, occasionally panic-inducing financial freakout.

Luckily, I deeply believe that, in the end, beauty will vanquish the panic beast.

Happy New Year everybody!!!!!!!!



33 Responses to 2017. The Year-End Update. THE HOUSE.

  1. Wow Wow Wow what a fun post!!!!

    The house is so breathtaking & beautiful & this is 3 almost 4 years after you bought it! With 2 facades restored, numerous corrections & return to original aesthetic– & 1 room decorated w another in process. It is so mind blowing!!! There are so so so many details restored & so mind blowing when enumerated. What a wonderful momentous reflection! And I cannot imagine how jarring it must be when panic waves set in — scary! Might be immobilizing were it not for your resolute drive!!!

  2. If you bought a house in a new subdivision, I suspect you would be bored with the house within days if not hours of moving in. Safe is not your middle name. I see you as thriving on all of the give, the take, and the seeing of promise fulfilled in your quest to achieve a fully restored Cross House.

    Somehow I doubt that a blog on suburbia would be of interest to write, nor would others want to read it. I am not sure if one million views counts all of the times that each of your disciples have viewed, or counts different individuals that have at least looked in, but either way, you are engaging the minds and hearts of old house lovers all over the world with the trials and tribulations of life restoring the Cross House. In doing so, you are feeding energy to your good karma in a way that few can match. Try that with a new home in a suburban development.

    So let’s just say it, you have become one of the superstars of blogging house renovators in an era when there are few superstars of any kind anywhere. I wish you well as 2017 winds down. When you admire those safe houses with their perfect towels, think what those people have chosen for their lives. I feel that I would rather curl up and…………… blow away.

    No extra charge for the melodrama.

    You still rock.

  3. I have been following your blog for .. I dunno a couple of years now. I so love what you’ve done with the Ross house. I love your passion for the history and the authenticity. And yes, I love your political posts, too.

    Please keep posting. I know I don’t comment often but I read every single day. 🙂

  4. Well, I am certainly Gobsmacked by a million plus visitors! That’s amazing! Congrats!

    I have so much admiration for what you are accomplishing, in a small town in Kansas no less! It is always a joy to get a little email notification letting me know I have new juicy tidbits of info about the Cross House to catch up on later when I am able to sneak away and dive right in. Love it all Ross… Love it all.

  5. Ross – reading your blog is the high point of my day. I learn SO VERY MUCH reading your VERY ENGAGING writing. I absolutely LOVE the Cross House and am sure it would not be restored to a VERY HIGH standard without YOU.

  6. Lol at least 300 of those views are mine!

    Ross, I hope you never regret buying that house. People like you are the reason this country still has anything resembling a unique architectural heritage, especially in this world of globalization and prefabricated parts. We are all hugely indebted to people like yourself who will take on such a task.

    • Thank you, AH!

      I have not for a minute ever regretted buying the house. Indeed, as I wrote early on, I think it was the best thing I ever did. And I have never wavered in this.

  7. I’m sorry that you had bad responses to your political post. I found your blog in 2015 and read all of it (thanks for having it in chronological order!) and at first, I wasn’t crazy about some of your choices. I didn’t like your dwelling on decisions and fixing and changing things. Over time, though, I’ve learned to wait for your big reveal, and you do have an eye for detail. It’s unbelievable. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following your beautiful home’s journey, but I will say, when you posted political blogs last year, I felt more drawn to your blog. You became more human, rather than just someone fixing a house. Your political posts were raw and honest (not to mention some points I greatly agree with) and I’ve enjoyed your posts immensely. I’ve never commented before, so this feels weird. From a not skilled at fixing things person living in Indiana, thank you.

    • Thank you, Kristal.

      I, too, wasn’t crazy about some of my choices! But I was trilled with the end results.

      Also, I am glad that you like some of my political thoughts. It’s always nice meeting a kindred spirit. But you may want to fasten your seat belt for THE ROSS post tomorrow. It’s…political.

      And I don’t hold back.

      Much love, Ross

  8. The honesty of your blog is admirable . Doing the insane scary things in life certainly keeps life interesting . You seem to have had an life of supreme interest. We the followers of your blog know this because you are sincere . Keep being an inspiration to yourself and us. Thank you .

  9. Lots of those views are mine too. I’ve reread this blog at least 3 times. It looks like 2018 will be your best year. South side. Finishing the stained glass. Repointing the chimney! Wishing a safe and happy new year to you and your devoted readers. Cheers!

  10. Ross, it was your destiny to take on the Cross House. It needed you and perhaps you needed it!
    You’re amazing and doing a fabulous job.

    I do think if everyone who has enjoyed your blog would send you $5-$10, it would be money well spent, as we know we’d see the rewards in the house (or carriage house!).

    Your writing is so descriptive, it allows us along in your journey. Thank you for letting us in!

  11. Ross I laughed out loud when you wondered what was wrong with you after visiting your friends new suburban home. I’ve asked myself the same question many, MANY times over the years. It’s worth it, I promise. One day, like me now, you’ll be bored, because there will be nothing to fix, enhance or beautify! And when that happens, you’ll really say, “what the fuck is wrong with me” when you go out and do it all over again.

  12. The NE corner before restoration always makes me stop and shudder. I am so glad you repaired that. Although your parlor paint sometimes does make me pause and think “What the heck Ross?” I also love it. It shows your character, creativity, and everything good in you.

    In the end; no one, NO ONE could have done, and will do, what you have done for not just Cross House, but the community as you have worked on them. I very eagerly await the near and far future, what comes for you, me, your readers, and the world. And wish you the best and most successful 2018.

  13. I can’t even explain how much better your version of panic is than suburban cookie cutter hell. We moved from a perfectly ‘fine’ two year old house in a fine neighborhood that bored us to tears to a 110 year old nightmare that had sunken foundations, horrible wall board, no air conditioning, disgusting carpet, and precarious chimneys. We would not trade this (incredibly beautiful) train wreck of a house for anything, no matter all the stress reduction it would bring. Even if I did spend yesterday morning fishing my cat out from between two chimneys where he’d fallen after climbing into the ceiling from one of the (many) holes in the walls.

    Nothing but your complete and utter devotion to this house could have saved it. It’s been waiting for you. It picked you. Yes it’s a lot of money…and time…and stress…and effort…..and money. But there is something to be said for responding to what moves you. This house clearly moves you. You said yourself the inner peace you feel coming into the house is real.Maybe it’s something like a symbiotic relationship. You will succeed and the house will help. 🙂

    Congratulations on all your hard work. Looking forward to next year.

  14. Ross, it is very clear that you are dear to many of your dedicated readers. I enjoy your process and learning how you think about issues and about the restoration. Thank you Ross for all of the hours of enjoyment, angst, fear, and utter joy I have felt reading your blog.

  15. I can’t improve on the great comments from your other readers, so I will just say that I totally agree with them and that I think you’ve made really great progress this year!

    I’m so sorry to hear about your moments of panic. As someone who has suffered with panic attacks, off and on through the years, I can relate. I don’t know if you do this, but, in my case, I would over-analyze and worry about everything. That’s not to say one can blithely go through life oblivious to consequences, but I’ve learned not to over do it. I think your idea to focus your time and money on the things you need to get done before you move in is a really great idea. I assume that once you are able to move in, a lot of the financial pressure and moments of panic will fade away. But anyway, I wish you nothing but the best Ross and I’m hoping for a great 2018 for you and the Cross house!

  16. A wise man once said to another, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” Happy holidays Ross, I wish 2018 is prosperous, prolific and pleasurable for you!

  17. Thank you for the hours of entertainment you have given so many of us over the past few years. I hope you accomplish your “to do list” in 2018, and that you are able to get moved in to your fabulous home. Also, I don’t know if you have found anyone with a metal detector yet, if not I have one. I would be more than happy to see if we could find any pipeline that may have went to the carriage house. It would probably have to be after school lets out or maybe spring break. Just let me know. Happy New Year, Ross!

  18. I’m responsible for another 300 or so views. I don’t comment often, but I check your blog about 3 times a day! I’m in agreement with your political views, too, so your political posts don’t bother me at all.

    I’m sending you some money and some supportive energy too. I didn’t know you had panic attacks and hope my little bit will help relieve that.

    2018 is going to be an amazing year. I can feel it. Don’t despair!

  19. Dear Ross, congratulations on all of what you’ve accomplished so far. There is so much more to do, but you have succeeded in making it a fascinating adventure, and look how many of us are gobsmacked everyday when we see your progress and passion. So many of us have become addicted to the Cross House and your writing, and as you said, we’re like a community of friends who dare say their mind, even if it is not positive about some of your decisions. But the house is yours, and it’s enthralling to see it changing day after day, discovery after discovery, bit by bit. Wish you the best, and keep up with your amazing job at making the Cross House a beautiful lady, and you’ll keep us all hooked at your blog. As far as i’m concerned, it’s a daily reading, from my workplace, whatever if i have work to do or if i’m bored, i like to take a few minutes off to read the post(s) of the (past) day(s). Bonne année from France’s Loire Valley and meilleurs voeux for 2018! 🙂

  20. I first reached your blog today. I learned of it looking for old pantries and view the Circa Houses video on YouTube. I have just skimmed through the last 3+ years of your life, and “Wow!” is all I can say. The house is beautiful!

  21. I laughed when I read the “WTF is wrong with me” comment. I have that all the time. My family members all live in pristine newish houses with matchy matchy stuff (and nice towels). And, sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me as well! Ross, I have said it before, but your blog is a place I come because I feel a little less alone/weird as a house restorer, and am glad that there is someone else who really cares about wood windows, plaster, and all of the original bits!

    I also really empathize with the panic. I have done a lot of projects, but none to the scale of the Cross House. No matter what, there are always the waves of panic! Financial, and also the thought: can I ever actually get this done?

    Keep it up! Wonderful work. And, thank you for honestly sharing that it is not all roses and sunshine. That also helps the rest of us.

  22. Of course everything is stunning about your before and after pictures and I love the paint treatment on the walls and the ceiling in the parlor !

  23. Hi Ross, still reading. I think you have done a fantastic job this year. Have you considered doin the same antique treatment to the tops of the columns on the triple arches windows on the north side as you did to the porch posts? I think it would accent them. Anyway, I will probably find you did by the end. Happy 2017

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