The Cross House

A Discovery! A Mystery! A Supposition!


In the 1960s it seems that the Toms family, which owned the Cross House from 1950 to 1992, added an exterior door to the original Dining Room so they could have a private entrance (as the house was being used at times as a motel, boarding house, fraternity, and sorority).

The doorway was created out of the east window. The door itself came from elsewhere in the house. Last year, Justin and I figured out that it was originally the inner door to the south vestibule. Cool.

I had always planned to undo this alteration…


…and this week I did. The “red” door.


The red door be gone and the lost window size recreated.


Partial first floor.


A: Location of “red” door.

B: Original location of red door. This is the INNER door to the south vestibule.

C: Exterior door. This is the OUTER door to the south vestibule.

The Cross House has three vestibules, and each has an INNER and OUTER set of doors.

All three outer doors are in situ. But only two inner doors are. This is how we figured out where the red door was originally.

Yesterday, I removed the fabulous Kelp hinge plates to the non-original door frame in the dining room and reinstalled them in their original location on the south vestibule. Then Justin helped me lift the door in place where the door hinge plates would effortlessly slip into the frame hinge plates, and after fifty years the red door would, once again, be back in its original location.

Justin and I were excited!

Our excitement though was soon…dashed.

The hinges did not mate. They were off by 3/8-inches.

Huh? What? WTF????????

We were baffled. There was no question that the red door was now back in its original location. We looked to see if any of the hinge plates had been moved. Nope.

So, the plates should align perfectly.

But they did not.

“It seems crazy, but the red door could not have been in this location originally,” I said.

“Agreed. But then where the hell was it?” Justin asked.

We wandered around. The only possible place for the red door, other than the south vestibule, was the main pantry which was missing its door. The overall size proved right, and, significantly, the location of the hinges also proved right.

Oh! The red door was from the pantry!

To prove this I removed the elaborate hardware to find evidence of the lost kitchen hardware, which has a totally different profile.


In removing the hardware I was excited to reveal the ghost outline of the kitchen hardware!


Dashed again! There was not a trace of any previous hardware. Moreover, the extant hardware was without question the original hardware to the red door.


I also removed the Kelp hardware.


Dashed again! The Kelp hardware was also 100% original.


At this point Justin’s brain and my brain were beginning to F R Y.

Our sizzling brains tried to process the unprocessable:

  • The Kelp hardware was ONLY on the vestibule doors.
  • The red door had Kelp hardware.
  • This Kelp hardware was original to the red door.
  • There was only one missing vestibule door.
  • Thus, the red door must be that door.
  • But, the hinge locations 100% disproved this.

Our brains were now fried.

We went back and forth and back and forth and back and forth with wild ideas and desperate grabs for solutions.

Smoke was now seeping out of our ears.


The south hall, looking at exterior door C. The inner door is missing.


I stood staring at the outer door. And kept staring. Wisps of smoke wafted through the air between Justin and I.

I stared.

I then opened the outer door.

I stared some more.

Then Justin stared.

We had no idea what we were looking for.

“That’s odd,” I said at last.


The lower Kelp hinge on the outer door. It don’t quite fit. It don’t quite fit!!!!!!!! A clue as to something amiss!


A few feet higher was filled-in hinge plate. Huh? What? The outer door did not have a middle hinge. Another clue as to something amiss!


Justin and I stared at these two anomalies. And stared some more. Then all at once we both exclaimed: “This door is not original!”

In a rush of comprehension we realized that the RED door had three hinges, and that the location of the RED door hinges did, in fact, PERFECTLY align with the original hinge plate locations on the OUTER door frame.

And the hinge locations of the current outer door matched perfectly with the INNER frame.

In short, my dear Watson, the red door was originally the outer door, and the current outer door was originally the inner door.

Sparks shot out of Justin’s ears and mine.

At some point the two doors were switched. And later one door was moved to the dining room.


Outer door C. So, this was originally the INNER door!!!!!!!! It has privacy glass. With the door back in its original location, and open, one would be able to look out though the clear glass of the re-installed OUTER door. And a lot more light would be admitted into the hall than is now possible. For privacy, one will just close the inner door. This all makes sense, as it would have, too, in 1894. I will be returning each door to its original location.




This is the closet in the south hall. #8 is where the lost laundry chute will be reconstructed, and #9 is where the lost dumb waiter will be reconstructed.


When I drew the above I just assumed that the closet door opened out. This is what ALL small closet doors do. For, if a small closet door opens IN you really can’t fit anything into the closet.

But, yesterday Justin and I looked at the door opening (the door itself is stored in the basement) and realized something odd. Something very odd, indeed:

  • The door originally opened INTO the closet.
  • The hinges on the frame, and the strike-plate, were set BACK about an inch from what is normal.

Wafts of smoke resumed emanating from our ears.


This is a spectacularly odd way of installing door hinges. The hinges should be over to the left about an inch. I have never seen hinges CARVED into a door frame. The brown vertical strip to the left is the door stop. I pulled it off. It is absolutely original, as the wood under is unfinished.


The strike-plate. It should be over to the right, and the extension part (the strike) should reach past the door frame.


At this point a visitor would have thought the house was on fire as there was so much smoke in the hall.

No matter how many ideas Justin and I pondered and re-pondered nothing made sense of this BIZARRE configuration.

All the evidence shows:

  • The closet door is original.
  • The door opened INTO the closet, meaning that one could not really put anything in the closet. Huh?
  • The door was, inexplicably, set back into the frame about an inch. Somebody went to a lot of trouble to save an inch. But why????????

Justin and I had no answers.

Our brains are now in the emergency room. Please send cards and chocolate. And good dry red wine.



I have long suspected that there was no coal room in the basement of the Cross House.

No such room is shown on the original plan:


The basement.


Of course the plan could be incomplete. It does not show, for example, any laundry tubs in the laundry room but the room certainly had tubs. Nor is any lighting shown, as is shown for the upper floors.

I have also noticed the absence of a coal chute in the exterior limestone foundation, or even the slightest indication of one removed and then patched over.

Thus, I have long kinda sorta thought that coal was stored in the carriage house.

Yesterday another thought popped into my head: The boilers were also in the carriage house!

This would mean that the coal was sensibly stored adjacent to the boilers!

I am guessing that because the Cross House basement had a large laundry room perhaps the idea was to keep dirty dirty dirty coal out of the absent altogether.

Moroever, having remote boilers was not unusual at the time. In cities across America there were huge boiler plants which sent steam and hot water to hundreds of nearby buildings. Because the Cross House was so advanced having a remote boiler would not surprise me.

Harrison Cross also built the houses just south of the Cross House. Were these, too, serviced by the carriage house boiler plant?

SUPPOSITION: A belief held without proof or certain knowledge.




46 Responses to A Discovery! A Mystery! A Supposition!

  1. Whew! Quite the day! Sounds like I left a few days too early. I love a good ear smoking.

    Congrats in figuring out the red door!!! And good luck with the rest. Lol

  2. First documented high from smoking seaweed? No, no. Smoking because of mismatched kelp? Huh? Well, got me and I’m not even gonna try to figure out the closet door. Good night and happy hunting!

  3. But that’s great that it solves two mysteries. Thanks for taking such care with the Cross House and for sharing it with us. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about stewardship. You are a good steward.

  4. The only idea I can offer is the possibility of the whole door frame having been rotated – but this doesn’t account for the buried hinges or strike plates. I do have some doors that were deeply inset to accommodate a portier and rod though, which would also answer why the door would open inwards. If one of the side walls in the closet were removed (in the case that they are not original) what would the opening lead to, and would it make sense? This one will haunt my dreams tonight!

    • The closet door frame does not appear to have been rotated. The plaster inside the closet, where is kisses the frame, is TIGHT.

      The side walls of the closet are original. To the right is the powder room wall. To the left is the butler’s pantry.

  5. I’ve done the same, “explore every inch of the house trying to find where the hell they took this from” many times. We have a handrail in the basement that has these almost beehive ends that I can not for the life of me find out where it went, and then there’s the balusters in the garage that I have yet to decide whether they went on the back porch or the balcony above. Glad you had more luck than I’ve had. Our house is from 1920 and was…flipped…by the last owners who were very cheap so thankfully all they did was paint poorly and put in some carpet. My mother and I are slowly but surely backdating the house, 17 years old and I am using a dentist pick to get paint out of egg and dart detail on a back plate, and planning out period appropriate bathroom designs. I really enjoy this site and it makes me very happy to see such a grand ole’ dame get some well deserved love!

    • Hi Spencer! I also was using a dentist pick to get paint out of the nooks and crannies of some detailed hardware, and then I discovered that a little bit of CitriStrip, dabbed onto the area with a toothbrush or something similar, works like a charm. I only leave it on a minute or two, wipe off what I can with a rag, and rinse. The paint comes off instantly, and doesn’t affect the metal hardware at from what I can see.

  6. Wow, very interesting discoveries. While some of the hacks and damage to the original interiors are surely frustrating, you are spectacularly fortunate that so much remains, and that even most of what was modified or removed is still extant. If that work had been done by an average landlord today, those original doors you traced to their original homes with have been long gone and been replaced by steel exterior doors from the big box home store.

  7. Are there shelves in the closet? If the door opens inward to some shelving then it could have been used as a linen closet and the swing of the door wouldn’t have mattered as much…? If i remember correctly linens were something women in the victorian era took pride in, so they would have had their own closet or at least a designated place for them all.. Or it really could have just been an error on the builders part. Who knows.. I’m sure you’ll figure it out! I mean look what your detective skills figured out with those doors! 🙂

    • The closet would have been, almost certainly, a coat closet.

      The south entrance was the family entrance, and they needed a place for their coats and boots.

      • Interesting.. it sounds like the swing of the door was put on that way accidently then. How very odd that no one ever switched it.

        • I doubt the door installation was an accident. The whole is quite deliberate, and the fact the the hinges and strike were set BACK indicates that, for some reason, an extra inch was needed when the door swung into the closet. The closet is deeper than the door is wide so why an extra inch????????

  8. Hello Ross.

    I don’t think that the closet your talking about in this post had that door originally, or at least not in that configuration. Does it show any stain underneath the paint? Why would they have ever painted any of the woodwork in that closet? Have you seen any other closets in the main part of the house that had been painted originally? Only the kitchen woodwork was painted right? [Ross: Almost all the trim in the house was painted originally, with a faux wood finish. Because the closet has a door stop, and this stop IS original, the door itself is almost certainly original.]

    So that closet wouldn’t have had access into the kitchen in 1894, thus they probably wouldn’t have painted it. The way they carved out the hinge into the door jam looks kinda roughly done, and the striker plate not reaching all the way to the outside edge of the jam (thus causing damage to the door jamb wood from day one) all seems to show it wasn’t professionally done and probably not original. Bare wood under a hinge gouged into a door jamb doesn’t mean it’s original. It could just mean somebody gouged into the wood after the fact. [Ross: Again, all the extant evidence indicates that the door to the closet is original.]

    Is the door that you show a picture of with the star pattern hinge in the “Meet my Hardware Post” the one from that closet? If you notice the hinge is not in the original place on that door. It’s been moved you can see the other holes where the hinge used to be. [Ross: All the first-floor interior hinges have the star pattern.]

    You do know that there was five pairs of damask portieres sold at a yard sale. I’d go around the house and see if you can find all 5 openings where those portieres went. I know you found at least one location in the round Tower bedroom. I wonder if the closet in this post is one of the other 5 places they went. [Ross: portieres were used between rooms. I have never seen portieres used on a closet.]

    It looks like it’d be a good idea to go around and check all your door hinges and door jambs to see which ones look like they’ve been modified, moved, etc. I’d especially check the servants stairwell. Look at your Blueprints and see how well they match up with the doors that are in place today in that stairwell. I think when it was converted (one of the several times) they probably moved those doors around to seal off that stairwell to make more Apartments etc. You know the butler’s Pantry door was moved to that stairwell. How many other doors may have been moved to that stairwell? I may have missed something in your blog as to why, but what makes you think that the boilers were coal fired? You have a house built with all the modern amenities for 1894 like half gas half electric fixtures so why not have a gas-fired boiler? I’d have to do a little research but I think they had gas fired boilers by 1894. I do know by the 1880s that natural gas pipelines ran from Texas all the way to Chicago so they definitely had natural gas in Emporia. [Ross: The house had eight coal-burning fireplaces, so it makes sense that the house also had coal-burning boilers. I doubt that Emporia had gas lines in 1894.]

    Couple other questions for you. The diamond brooch windows? Why didn’t you paint the tin panels between the windows the lighter color? [Ross: I did not realize until after I painted the tin that they were the wall color originally rather than the trim color. But I like what I did better, so left it!] It also looks like the columns in the diamond brooch were also painted the lighter color. You can see in the 1894 picture both sections are lighter. Being on the North side the sun is not hitting this side of the house thus it’s not shadows that are causing those effects in the diamond brooch.

    How about all the porch post columns you can see there is a dark ring painted down near base and the hand carved section towards the top is also painted darker than the rest of the column as well. You can clearly see the columns are painted that way. There are columns both in the sunlight showing the same dark sections as well as the one post on the North Face side porch and a couple ones on the northern side of the front porch that are in the shade all of them still retain those different color tones. I didn’t know if that was a choice or an oversight on your part. [Ross: I did paint the columns as shown in the 1895 image. And did not like the effect, so painted the entire column olive green.]

    Now a few FYI for you. There was a large metal tank on the third floor over in the Southeast corner where the bathroom is being installed. I don’t know if it was a hot water heater or a water tank to store extra water for fire suppression or to help water pressure for the house, but it was riveted together like the boiler of a railroad steam engine. I can’t see it in your photographs so I’m figuring that it was removed which is too bad because I’m pretty sure it was original if not a very very old part of the house. [Ross: that would be, I am guessing, a pressure tank. It is gone and I have no images of it.]

    The light switch in the telephone closet used to turn on the the chandelier in the stair Hall. I don’t know if it also turned on the telephone closet light but in 1999 it turned on a cheesy milk glass chandelier in the stair hall.

    You also had someone post a comment about the the limestone lattice and that a section was missing. She was right. I also remember that there was a stone missing. If you check out the 1999 photograph showing both the limestone lattice windows in the round Tower you can see one of the pieces of limestone is missing. The Rodaks must have found and replaced it. [Recently, I found one 1999 image showing a section of the limestone lattice removed on the east side. Yes, it appears that Bob Rodak re-installed the stone.]

    The group home kids that were living in the carriage house may have removed it. They were breaking the stained-glass windows and going up on the porch and kicking all the balusters off of the porch rails that’s why the fence went up and the windows were boarded up to keep those snot-nosed sons-of-bitches from destroying everything.

    The Thompson’s were trying to protect the house. [NOTE: The Thompsons purchase the house in 1992.] They were going to turn the Cross House and the house they owned on Exchange Street behind the Cross House into a bed-and-breakfast but Mrs. Thompson developed cancer and that stopped them from continuing the restoration that they planned. The city had nothing to do with it. Damn city leaders can’t get their head out of their asses to do anything to protect historic homes in Emporia. All they ever want to do is tear beautiful historic homes and businesses down. [Ross: The city has been nothing but helpful, gracious, and supportive to me.] Born and raised in Emporia for over 30 years I know what I’m talking about. I could tell you horror stories that would make your blood boil. I also can tell you stories about some of the founding fathers which show they weren’t such good people. Do you know how H C Cross got the money to build that house? [Ross: Harrison Cross owned a bank and he also developed real estate. The house was of a commensurate size for a banker. I know there are stories that Cross stole money from the bank to build the house but there is no evidence to support this.]

  9. Hi Ross. Not true there is proof he was a crook and so was his son. – Cross – Story Of A Bluff That Was Carried On For 25 Years – Emporia Gazette – August 19 1899. You can find the article on the Rodaks old website for the cross house. It’s on the page where all the news articles that they had found is listed. I’ve tried to connect a link for you. The article clearly states both were speculators and both were always in debt. H C Cross did not own the bank he was the director of the bank which was founded by several prominent Emporia founding fathers including Preston Plumb. Both H C Cross and his son milk Emporia for alot of money. When the bank finally failed under the stewardship of his son he committed suicide. Guess he didn’t want to face the music. It’s also why there was the kansas Supreme Court case about the house when Susan Cross died the city was trying to recoup money that the Cross family had embezzled from the bank investors. To be clear they both fished with the banks books to keep their debts hidden and the fact the bank did not have assets to cover it’s deposit. Both were land speculators that were trying to make money to pay back the funds they took from the bank, but they both failed. In conclusion they were most definitely both Crooks.
    That article also says that the house was originally built for $20,000 and it was the only tangible asset H C Cross owned.
    As for the gas lines in Emporia if they didn’t have them then whatever supplied the gas for your gas light fixtures could have supplied the gas for the boiler. Emporia had gas street lights in 1894 so I’m pretty sure they did have gas lines but I’ll have to research that to be sure it wasn’t a storage tank of gas supplying the gas for the street lights.

    like you stated about the half gas half electric fixtures they were part gas and part electric because the electricity was new and gas was the old tried-and-true working system. Same goes with a newfangled gas fired boiler (I found online about a gas heating unit from the 1880s but it didn’t say if it was for boilers or one of the first forced air systems. I’ll keep looking for better info on that.) versus the tried-and-true working coal fireplaces. If Emporia didn’t have gas lines maybe they also had the coal fireplaces in case they ran out of gas in their tank. Not saying I’m right about any of this just saying that it is a possibility and a good explanation why you can’t find a coal Chute. Mabey they converted the coal Chute into one of the basement windows? I’d start by doing a real close examination of the windows they put in the basement back in the fifties one of those may be you’re original coal chute
    . The small room off to the southeast corner of the laundry room does perplexed me. I’d hate to have the coal going through the laundry room but it would have quick access to the dumbwaiter to run coal up for the fireplaces. I live in an apartment building built in 1909 it has formal dining room Butler’s Pantry maid’s quarters etc. There is also a small hallway that now houses the furnace / air conditioner, but originally it was an access hallway from the front entry to a back hallway. The family would use the back hall to go between the two bedrooms. And the small Hall would let the public access the bathroom without going through one of the bedrooms. The back hallway has a blanket closet the bathroom door and another closet in it. Each end of that back hallway goes to a bedroom. There is a original door closing that small hallway where the furnace now is from the front entry, but there is another door which has been added behind the furnace that opens to the back hall. This back doorway has a door jamb but clear evidence there was never a striker plate nor were there hinges sunken into the wood like all the other doors in the apartment. They just slapped a door up to make that a furnace room instead of a hallway, so just because there is door jamb in a doorway doesn’t mean they put a door there originally. Let’s not forget the architect forgot to put a door to the Sun porch right?

    When I talked about the star pattern hinge you can see in the photograph that hinge has either been moved back to its original position or from its original position because they’re other screw holes on that door that’s what I was talking about when I mentioned that Hardware had been moved on that door. I know it is found throughout the first floor of the house. Could there also have been some of that same Hardware in the carriage house? If you seem to have an extra door or hardware maybe it came from the carriage house.

    I used to own 825 Exchange Street and live there and I to think it also was a Squire’s built home. It also has some original little quirks. I think the man was just a little quirky. Back to my small hall doorway There is one piece of the door jam missing across the top and it’s evident there was always a door jamb there because there is a a quarter inch Gap exposed in the wood and the door that they put up does not match the rest of doors in the house also the hardware just hits the wood on the side there is no plate no cut out for the plate or anything. I wanted to be clear that my doorway with door jam trim did not have a door originally.

    The portiere by definition is a curtain in a doorway. Sometimes that’s between main rooms sometimes it covers doors that go outside. I have been to a house very similar to the Cross house just outside of Jewell Kansas that was built in the late 1890s (by a banker fyi) they have an original photograph looking in from the front door into the house and to the right is a curtain. When I visited the house a new curtain was there but that curtain was closing off nothing but the hall closet. There are no rooms behind that closet area. So it must have always been the hall closet. Again just info for you not saying I’m right you’re wrong or anything like that. These are things that I’ve run across it in my travels.

    I know that the woodwork has a faux finish I got that but that white paint where that hinge has been inserted into the door is not your faux paint job it’s just white paint does it cover over the the woodwork faux finish or is it just like the kitchen just painted white?

    Did you know on the trip when H C Cross died one of the things he was doing was getting the new carpeting for the house. The structure was complete but the interior design furniture, carpeting, etc was not completed when he died. It may explain why you have no original photographs of the grand interior. I bet it may never have been completely finished. Go to the ESU Library they had alot of the old Emporia Gazettes on microfiche. Back in the 1990 while I was in college I spent about six months reading through those mostly for info on the Cross House. There’s a lot of info there that people miss.

    I’m glad the city’s been a help for you but to be clear even you’ve mentioned how they just tear down homes to make parking etc. I have personal stories of dealing with the city and the tearing down of homes and businesses that should not have been torn down. I’m glad you’re saving the house please don’t think that I don’t like you or like what you’re doing to the house. Accept the butler’s pantry you will spend time at Purgatory for that sir. You did something just like so many other people have done in the history of that house but at least you did the same thing as a lot of them and kept the pieces out of respect for the house. Remember any time you say you want to go back in time and slap somebody or say that the people back in such-and-such time have some explaining to do you now are on that list as well. Let’s hope if they do invent a time machine at some point in the future that nobody comes back and slaps you for the pantry.

    • Bob Rodak graciously gave me a copy of the Emporia Gazette article you mention: “Story Of A Bluff That Was Carried On For 25 Years”.

      The article is all speculation. No proof is offered as to its myriad assertions. There are no footnotes. I have never read anything which supports the assertions in the article.

      Just because something is printed in a newspaper does not make it true! In the 1780s, one newspaper detailed terrible stories about President George Washington. Today, diligent research has proved that the newspaper was secretly underwritten by Thomas Jefferson (who was Washington’s Secretary of State) and the newspaper expressed Jeffersons views. However, none of the stories were true.

      The facts:

      Harrison Cross was the President of the First National Bank. Cross died in 1894, six months after the Cross House was finished.

      His son, Charles, took over the bank after his father died. The bank failed in 1898, and Charles committed suicide. Even the newspaper article you mentioned wrote: “In not a single instance has it ever been shown that [Charles] used a dollar for his own personal gain, glory, or advancement.”

      Later, a suit was filed against the widow of Harrison Cross, Susan, to recover funds lost by a depositer. The case went all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Susan Cross.

      These are all facts. Everything else is speculation and gossip.

  10. Ross: Thank you for this blog and for EVERYTHING you have done so far with the glorious Cross House! Consider yourself hugged!

  11. Perhaps the doors to the laundry shoot and dumb waiter opened into that closet? Maybe a door on either side? If the family came into that entrance, it may have been easy to send the coats, scarves, etc down to be pressed and stored.

    • They could have even used the double opening of the dumb waiter as a sort of serving window. A place to pass tea between the kitchen and back hall to be served in the library or parlor rather than walk all the way around, through the dining room. That might explain why they only had the dumb waiter go up to the main floor.

      • Hi Tony!

        Yes, Justin and I gave some thought about the dumbwaiter perhaps having on opening into the kitchen and the closet.

        But, this would still not explain why the door opened IN, and why it is set back into the frame about an inch.

        I have no doubt that there was a reason for both oddities. I just cannot fathom why. Yet!

  12. Just because you read it in the newspaper doesn’t mean it’s not true either. Same goes for just because you haven’t read something out of a book with footnotes yet doesn’t mean it’s not true or that the information is not available. I’ve tried to back up with facts the information that I have read out of books, newspapers, and yes I have heard information from different descendants of founding families of the city of Emporia as well as residence who were in their sixties to their eighties when I talked with them back in the late 1980s and 1990s.

    I’m only stating the facts that I can backup in the printed form. Not some of the more colorful stories that some people have told me over the years. When I moved away from Emporia I sold all my books about Emporia and Lyon County or I would be quoting from some of those books because I did read some of this information out of those books. I guess next time I’m in Emporia I’ll have go to the library. So I can prove to you that I’m not a liar or spreading information just out of newspapers that I can’t provide proper and acceptable footnotes for you.

    In the meantime here’s a few other facts and questions for you. Which I hope you can back up with more than just your word.

    Fact: You just tried to discredit me and what I have told you by using an example of a story about a different newspaper printed over a hundred years before the Cross house was even built. And you did not include a single solitary footnote or explanation as to who or how they discovered all of this. I’m just supposed to take it at your word that you’re not making up a story, or that you have all your facts straight.


    The least you could have done is talked about the how newspapers were in the late 19th century. “All the News That’s fit to print” does that ring a bell? Do you not know any of that story? Look it up there’s more than just newspaper articles about it. It would have been a much more appropriate story to and more relevant to time of the articles which I had quoted about the Cross house and family.

    Just what newspapers do you read that give footnotes anyway?

    I ask you now to give a list of what books you have read about Emporia. That way I and the other readers can get a better idea of just how well versed you are on the subject of the history of Emporia and the cross home. And I’m not talking about one of the Old Blue Book of Emporia or those little turn of the century pamphlets that are like tourists brochures of today, but solid bound books like autobiographies of citizens of Emporia or Lyon County Kansas and books about Emporia and Lyon County. Let me know how many of those old turn of the century books gave you good footnotes? And are any of those footnotes citing newspaper articles? I can think of the title of seven books that I have read about Emporia and the citizens of Emporia and Lyon County, and No not all of them had information about H C Cross. If your last response to me is true and “These are all the facts everything else is gossip and speculation.” You most definitely have not read all the books I have about Emporia and Lyon County.

    Give me a break! You should want to know the full truth about your home and the people who built it. When someone comes to you with information ask for more see if they can back it up. look for more info yourself and go with it. Don’t try to just dismiss someone who might be bring you some good information because you don’t like everything they say or disagree with some of it. Choose to have an open dialogue instead of shutting them down.

    I know that there has been many many times when people have lied in the newspaper, books, and on TV but we cannot fully and wholly disregard an entire form of media or information because of a few bad apples. Or some misinformation.

    You’re telling me that The Emporia Gazette which was at the time was owned and operated by William Allen White one of the most prominent and well-respected journalists of his time. Had allowed lies and slander to be posted about the Cross family in his newspaper not once but several times? I guess it would make sense maybe he was screwed out of money by the Cross family. I don’t know I haven’t researched that yet have you?

    So I cannot trust a newspaper? Or did you mean a newspaper from over a hundred years ago? How about three newspapers with articles about the Cross family spanning over a hundred years would that help? Or am I to assume that you think all newspapers lie are slanderous and untrustworth no matter who when or where they were printed?

    Fact: The Republican paper “Charles Cross Sunnyslope farm was sold to pay the creditors and it still was not enough to cover how much money was missing.” Not how much was owed but MISSING.

    Fact: Kansas City Star 7-16-1942 part of an article of When fond Recollections “I did not realize fully they were Federal investigators at 4:30 their train left. At 4:15 Charlie came into the room as fresh as a daisy smiling like the cat who swallowed the canary. They had to leave on the 4:30 train and they left. Six months later the First National Bank closed and almost wrecked the town. Charlie Cross went to his farm at Sunnyslope and committed suicide. He left a letter. A letter explaining that his father had left a criminal shortage and he had done his best he could with it.”

    Fact: Part of an article from the Emporia Gazette May 13th / 14th 1995 by Meg Stockton. “On November 16th 1898 cross committed suicide 30 minutes after the bank he owned was closed when large amounts of money were found to be missing.” There’s that word again “MISSING”. And that’s not a typo the article is from 1995 so you’re telling me that even the modern-day Emporia Gazette gets the facts wrong? To be clear they did not state in the article he stole or profited from what happend at the bank. The bank went belly-up and he killed himself so that’s pretty much a given fact he didn’t profit from his misdoings. huh? In my previous post I did say Charles tried to get the money back and that he was a land Speculator. That was how he was trying to get the money back through real estate deals. I never said that he profited from the bank but that he fiddled with the books and covered up the money/debt his father had stolen and owed. Rather than come clean and tell the truth. He lied. That makes him just as big a crook as his father was and both ended up milking the citizen and depositors at the First National Bank of Emporia for a lot of money. Do you realize you tried to use the same article I quoted you to disprove what I said? Which is it you can or can’t trust what the article said? Or do you just want to pick and choose what parts of it you want to believe? You tried and very unsuccessfully I might add to put your own spin on what I said.

    That’s just sad.

    And no there were no footnotes for the 1995 Gazette article sorry.

    Now I ask you.
    Have you been to the Emporia State University library? Have you checked out not only their collection of newspapers but their books on the city of Emporia and Lyon County? Have you even walked across the street to the Emporia library or the Lyon County Museum? And delve deep into their archives? Have you read the kansas Supreme Court case? I think the case would have come out much different if HC or his son had been in court instead of Susan. Have you check the federal government information about First National Bank of Emporia collapse? I have done all of this back in the day of the card catalog and super slow internet (except checking out the federal government information about the First National Bank of Emporia collapse) it should be much easier for you now.

    Don’t be another one of those people who sticks their head in the sand. Or only wants to smell the roses but doesn’t want to see the shit they grow out of. From what I read so far of your blog I thought you were better than that.

    *Footnote: All historical newspaper information and more on this response can be found at

  13. Good Grief! The house is not responsible for the sins of its maker. Leave it alone.

    Ross – getting back to the original blog subject – the doors! How fantastic to have a mystery to solve – or not solve and make your own use of the door/closet!

    Have a FANTASTIC and POSITIVE day! Woo Hoo! I wonder what other perplexing circumstances you’ll discover this week!


  14. Our house was originally heated with coal (using a convection furnace), but the abscense of a traditional metal coal chute puzzled me for years. It wasn’t until last fall when I restored the final basement wood window and frame, that I discovered gouges and other damage hidden under putty and caulk on the frame that clearly suggest they simply shoveled it in through a standard window. Our basement windows are awning windows that hinge at the top and have a hook to hold them open against the floor joists above, so it provided a perfectly functional opening to shovel coal in, albeit without the durability of a metal frame.

    Is there a basement window near where coal may have been stored? Perhaps it shows evidence of shoveling damage like ours.

    Gas heat seems very unlikely, as the municipal gas supply would most likely have been coal gas generated at a central plant, and far too expensive for the quantity required to heat a house of that size (and lack of insulation!). Natural gas did start to come into use in the end of the 1800s, though, but it didn’t start displacing coal for heating until much later.

    If there is no evidence of coal in the basement of the house, then a boiler located in the carriage house seems plausible. Have you looked for any evidence of the supply and return piping that would have exited the house? I would expect that patched holes would be visible in the foundation, although distinguishing them from holes made for another century’s worth of utility modifications may not be possible.

    • I long ago checked the basement window frames for coal damage but none of the frames show such evidence.

      The basement was converted into motel rooms in 1950 and all the basement walls were plastered. So, a ton of historical evidence was lost.

      If I could go back in time, and build a big house, WHY have boilers and coal in the house when they could have been in the carriage house? I mean, it makes sense, and this is SO what I would have done!

      • Perhaps the Cross family followed the practice used in the Choctaw Nation for creating the carbide to light their houses. The plants for that were considered too dangerous to be housed in the residence, so there would be a separate “carbide house.” Could it be that the Cross house furnace had its own separate structure, near the house but not in it?

          • Brain burp, Ross. I had temporarily forgotten the original location of the carriage house — and that it was not the residence it is now.

  15. Good Grief Indeed. What brought that on and why. Let us get back to the subject at hand. Closet doors, draperies, etc. Important things.

    Reminds me of Donald ranting and raving.

  16. Thank heavens that ROSS owns this house now and is doing the restoring. It is the HOUSE he loves, not the family that built it, regardless of their attributes.

  17. If you do an image search for double swing hinges, you can find pictures of them mounted in that same way, centered on the frame so that they swing evenly in and out. If you were able to access the dumbwaiter from both sides like a sort of pass-through, it would make sense to have a swinging door there. Servants holding a tea tray with two hands and all that. It would not have been a coat closet, but perhaps instead more of a staging area. So… I started pondering your floor plan and I think I have a more radical idea.

    What if your downstairs bathroom didn’t always open right into the hallway? What if that closet was actually a small antechamber into the bathroom with access to the dumbwaiter?

    Here’s why I wonder about this- the position of the dumbwaiter shaft is bisected on the back by the shape of the bathroom. So if there was dumbwaiter access that would have required an opening too small and off-center- with the current configuration. But let’s say that this was an antechamber to the bathroom (a feature I have seen elsewhere), and the bathroom was originally just square. And at some point the bathroom door was moved to the main hall and the small room turned into a closet. If you thought that it was possible you could check by looking at the back wall of the dumbwaiter space.

    Of course this is all wild speculation based on other speculation, and the photos and plans you have posted, but I figured I could share!

    • Good try!

      But there is no question that the bathroom door location is original. And it does have, curiously, a swing door.

      The closet door is not a swing door.

  18. Ross, as I was driving through the mountains home and had plenty of time to think and ponder, of course the curious case of the Cross House hall closet door came to mind and tortured me for a very long time. And then there was light in my car as the lightbulb went on over my head….

    Not knowing anything about these things, forgive me of my ignorance and silly suggestion if it is so..

    Could it be, the closet door was made to stay open, inside, and only closed when company came. The extra inch could be for a light curtain to hang as an easy in and out instead of having to open and close a door.

    or…. I know you said you have the original door to the closet, but perhaps was there another original, and could it have been like our accordion doors we use now, but nicer? That would be in keeping with the hinge, swinging it out of the way, and also set back to accommodate the extra width of the panels.

    Light bulb went off after that……

  19. Hey Ross, long time reader, first time commenter. I love your blog and spent an entire weekend last year reading everything. I check everyday to see if there are new posts. My assumption here would be that the closet door was installed with some type of self closing hinge to maintain a closed service door in an otherwise public space. I would speculate that the hinges were recessed into the jamb to provide some type of support to the mechanism/hinge, not to gain any extra space since, like you said, it seems unnecessary.

    On another note, do have blue prints of the apartment or hotel conversions? I saw most of the 2nd floor apartment conversion on your Lincrusta post. I would love to see any others you might have.

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