The Cross House

2018. The Year-End Update. THE HOUSE.

The year began with work on reconstructing…


…the staircase.


Kenny came by and restored the Round Bedroom mantel. Go, Kenny!


While Kenny was at the house, the long lost screen doors returned! What a thrill that was!


For about ten minutes I was spectacularly excited when the long dormant radiator system returned to life…until water from a hidden burst pipe ruined the newly finished parlor ceiling.


However, magic elves soon fixed the ceiling and all was well across the land again.


I redecorated the not-even-year-old walls in the parlor. And was thrilled with the results.


And with rug #4 in place, I was even more thrilled. At last, at last, what I had seeking was now a reality.


In February, I was able to install the incredible, period-correct gas/electric swivel sconces which Cody found! The wonderful mantel clock was a gift from Kenny in 2017!


The Sewing Room stained-glass windows returned to the house after being restored by Hoefer.


The restoration of the 43 stained-glass windows in the house (43!) has been enabled by two Heritage Trust Fund Grants.


This year, I lighted up many stained-glass windows at night, offering a glittering treat to anybody passing by.


A seemingly never-ending project was the effort to relocate “the snake”, a long AC duct, and then redo…


…the landing floor. Victory, at last! For the previous four years people had to walk across scary not-quite-solid planks.


Numerous bits returned to the house, thanks to the previous owner, Bob Rodak. This one door had to be rebuilt, thanks to Dr. Doug!


In March, I posted about my determination to only use period-correct antiques in the house. This seemed innocent enough, but several readers were FURIOUS! I did three posts on the subject. Here. Here. Here. Before reading, make sure you have some wine on hand.


In March, I began to restore the stairhall niche!


Bit by slow bit, the old dark shellac was removed, revealing…


…the glorious original oak. The arch is faux-oak on plaster, and is highly damaged to the left.


Then it was time to install a new ceiling in the niche!




It was then time to tediously strip the radiator.


I would not have survived this project without Audible books.


In May, Blair came for a tour of the house and he noted something which had totally escaped my attention: The Cross House originally had an annunciator (sorta like the one pictured) in the kitchen, and with call buttons in every room of the house! I was gobsmacked by this discovery! Here. Here.


I have never counted all the clear-glass windows in the house but suspect there are 3,987 of them. And every year for five years now these windows have been getting restored. Bit. By. Bit.


Including the pair of HUGE kitchen windows, and the PETITE adjacent powder room window.


All the Library windows, too.


And second-floor Sewing Room sashes. This work has also been enabled by the Heritage Trust Fund.


The BIG project for 2018 was finishing the NE corner.


This work was made hugely easier by rock-solid scaffolding and Audible books.


Inching away. While reading.




AFTER. I live for such comparisons.


After much ado, and much up/down, and several books later….DONE! I am thrilled beyond belief that the entirety of the North Facade is now complete!!!!!!!!


Some basement windows were also resurrected from the dead.




And y’all were breathless while waiting for the globally famous eyebrow window to be finished!


Gorgeous! Sexy, too!


In September, I began work on restoring the butler’s pantry. Well, at least one door.


It was great fun hosting a board meeting of the Strong City Preservation Alliance. Ruins and splendour, all in one.


Work began AT LAST on the south facade! This is the HUGE project for 2019.


The Round Bedroom was fully rewired! To repair all the holes in the plaster (most of the holes were extant when I purchased the house), I lugged…


…50 pound bags of scratch coat plaster into the foyer. There are still bags in the car. I plan to restore the plaster in the Round Bedroom as the January/February inside project.


Small thrills: I got the 1950s Hollywood-Regency sconces lighted in the Receiving Room! And…


…the 1929 cabinet re-installed in the Sewing Room. The cabinet originally contained a day bed, as it will again!


Much of the work above happened via my patented Baby Step™ method. I spend a few hours most afternoons at the house, and just work away while always listening to an Audible book or news podcasts. I find my time at the house to be exceedingly relaxing and enjoyable, and am always kinda surprised that, somehow, a lot of work gets done. When did all that happen?

In 2017, I formalized tours, and this has worked out well. Almost always I round up my visitors to get a picture…




(L to R), James, Vickie (super super super-duper fan of this blog), Shelby, and Dylan!


Aaron and Breanna!




L to R: Jim and Cindy, and Phyllis and Louis! Phyllis and Louis once lived in the Cross House. You will really enjoy this post.


L to R: Steve, Sherri, Shelly, and Mike!


Claudia and Marlon!


The extended Mouse family! The family owned the Cross House from 1929 to 1960.


Shelley and Patrick!


L to R: Clinton and Roger!


Sisters Hannah and Grace had a tour of the Cross House!


L to R: Maria, Susan, Brad, and John! Susan and Brad own the Gufler Mansion in Emporia.


FIRST ROW, L to R: Ida, Wendy, Ron, Linda! BACK ROW, L to R: Jenny, Urban, Josh, Chrissy!


Christina and Dusty!


And…the bat was back!


And this concludes the highlights of 2018!

A lot got done. But not as much as I had planned or hoped. I thought the staircase would be fully restored by the end of 2018. I thought all the second-floor ceilings would be done by now, too. I thought the Round Bedroom would be fully restored and decorated. I was certain the stairhall niche would be wholly finished.


Slowness is a byproduct of financial constraints, a dynamic every old-house owner well knows.

Still, doing this post was great fun because I kept thinking: Oh! I forgot about that! Oh! And that, too! And THAT! 

When people ask me how things are going at the Cross House, I always reply: “Well, as long as the house gets better every week, I am delighted.” This is true. And every week the house does get better. Slowly, in fits and starts, every week now for five years.

This makes me absurdly happy. I have done a lot in my life but restoring the Cross House has been the most satisfying, by far, even though my brain often thinks: WHAT are you doing? This is crazy! YOU are crazy!

And to you, my wonderful, engaged readers?


May you have a fabulous New Years and and even more fabulous 2019!



NOTE: In a day or so I will be posting: The Year-End Update. THE ROSS



21 Responses to 2018. The Year-End Update. THE HOUSE.

  1. Ross, you have accomplished so much! Keep going and before you know it you will have finished! Maybe take on a young apprentice so the next generation can learn the proper way to restore an old home. Just a thought. Happy New Year!!

  2. Any update on the kitty fence? Hope that happens in 2019 – while it is nice to not have to endure mess on a daily basis- it is also difficult to split your life between two locations. It will be nice to be in one place.

  3. Happy New Year to you Ross! I look forward to each and every post and when I tell my husband about something wonderful that you’ve done to “the house” he knows because I refer to you as “my Ross”…

    I hope 2019 brings you health, happiness and kitties! But most of all I hope you get the opportunity to move in to your home!

  4. Well that was fun! Isn’t it nice to look back at what you’ve accomplished. Looking back is my favorite part. Awesome job Ross. I hope you have a safe and happy new year.

  5. Impressed! I’m mostly a lurker here, but I have been following along for a long time, and I am quite impressed with the amount you accomplish. I am ten years younger and do not think I could keep up with you (and my 165 yo house is proof).

    Looking forward to seeing the south side come together (which of course means you will need to start on the west side afterwards) as well as all the other improvements you have been making.

  6. Ross, you have performed miracles! I’m so glad that you find this work relaxing and so fulfilling. I did a lot of work on my mother’s old 1874 seaside cottage in Ocean Grove, NJ, but hated dealing with the unlevel floors, non-square corners and salt water damage. Soon I am going to try my hand at building my own French doors. Thanks for the audiobooks tip! Wishing you much progress and happiness in 2019.

  7. In March, I posted about my determination to only use period-correct antiques in the house. This seemed innocent enough, but several readers were FURIOUS! I did three posts on the subject. Here. Here. Here.

    Did you moderate out the FURIOUS! posts? Because I just didn’t see anyone who seemed furious (one perhaps, who misinterpreted you, a bit offended. But not furious).

    WHAT a year! It’s going to take me a while to truly savor this record of (gorgeous) accomplishment!

    [And somehow I missed that the CH was going to be an AirBnB. Seems only fitting the house should work for you, after all the work you’ve done for it!]

  8. Wow! Are you sure you’re only one person!? You have accomplished so much this year! It’s truly a delight to watch your meticulous attention to detail as you bring the house back to life. Thanks for sharing your journey with us! Happy New Year and I look forward to seeing the light fixture for the niche. I haven’t forgotten! Very tantalizing. Cheers to you!!

  9. How in the heck do you have time for your job-job?! You’ve done so much in a year, it’s incredible to watch you progress. Don’t die in the next three years, I must visit the Cross-Ross House one day!

  10. I love seeing a whole year of incredible work compressed into a bunch of fab photos and updates. You should be justifiably proud of all your hard work. I’m already planning my own visit to this wonderful house in 2019.
    Wishing you and all your readers all the best in the year ahead, Colin.

  11. If you look at the third floor turret windows in the “after” picture above, it looks like the house is smiling. As well it should. You’ve done a wonderful Job Ross and I look forward to seeing what you have in store for the future.

  12. Hey Ross have you thought about painting your Dining Room to match your china? I have lovely “avocado green” (more like avocado mint green) China, and in the future I plan on painting my dining room that same green with scroll work akin to your parlor. Just an interesting thought.

  13. WE feel accomplished reading through everything you’ve managed this year, Ross, so I can only imagine how great it must make you feel. Bring on 2019, can’t wait to see what happens next‼

  14. Bravo Ross. Great post and a most impressive summation of your progress this past year. We’ll never know what a sacrifice you make each day, but I’m here to say “You got it going on!” Can’t wait to see what’s next. Happy New Year!

  15. Dear Ross, you’ve achieved so much in 2018, can’t wait for 2019, will check you blog daily, as always! Keep on the good work, wish you a perfect health for 2019 as this will greatly help you with all the tedious work you put in restoring the Cross House. Oh and good finances too! 😀

    Best wishes from France!

  16. Ross, I have enjoyed your posts on OHD for the past two years or so, and have finally taken the time to see what all the excitement is about in Emporia – Well, WOW! I am so amazed – your house is breathtaking, your progress is inspiring, your before and afters are so wonderfully satisfying… I’m not sure how I’ll be able to drag myself away tonight, but I’ll be back tomorrow, at which point I plan to start at the beginning…

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