The Cross House
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…
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.
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.
I stood staring at the outer door. And kept staring. Wisps of smoke wafted through the air between Justin and I.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.