The Cross House

A Door to the Past

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You are standing the the second-floor sewing room, looking south. The carriage house is outside the windows. A porch is to the left. See the door opening to the porch, facing east? That used to be a window. The window looked exactly like the windows on the right: two sashes with a stained-glass transom above. Yes, one crawled through the window to get onto the porch when the house was built in 1894. I did a post on this VERY weird discovery. If you have not already read this post, you will want to.

 

At some point, either likely 1929 or 1950, the east window facing the porch was transformed into a door when the porch was enclosed. The porch floor (as I just discovered) was about 6-inches ABOVE the sewing room floor. This floor was removed, and a new floor installed continuous with the sewing room (as seen in the above image).

In the process, two sashes were lost, and a stained-glass transom. This is the only stained-glass in the house gone missing, which is impressive considering that the house had forty-one such windows originally.

 

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Directly opposite the lost east-facing stained-glass transom is this transom, facing west. Because the architect of the house liked matching pairs, it is highly likely that the lost east window looked exactly like this. (The architect had two exact same windows in his own house a block away.)

 

 

THE PLAN

This week, I am going to recreate the lost porch floor. Then I will remove the glass panels filling the two arched windows of the porch. Thus, after an absence of many many many decades, the porch will again be an all-weather space. Whoee!

I will later rebuild the lost east window to its original size. This will not be hard, as only the bottom portion needs to be rebuilt, and a spacer installed between the sash opening and stained-glass transom.

When the stained-glass window shown above is restored, I will have a matching one made. This will be installed in the east-facing window.

Where the two wood sashes were originally, will be my clever idea. Rather than sashes, I am going to have a door made. The door will look just like a pair of sashes, but will open like a door.

Because I will need to match the thin outline of a wood sash, I don’t think the door can be made of wood, but will need to made of steel. Hope Windows specializes in this kind of thing, so I am going to ask them for a quote.

Yes, I will have to step over a high threshold to access the porch, but suspect this will be more charming than annoying.

 

 

 

13 Responses to A Door to the Past

  1. One of my favorite movies is the Judy Garland musical “Meet Me In St. Louis” which is set during the years 1903-1904. During a party scene at the Smith house, a group of young people are in the parlor and another group is just outside on the porch. The reason I mention this is because for a brief moment the camera catches a young lady entering the parlor from the porch… through a window. Evidently those large windows were made to walk through. Every time I watch that scene I think about your porch and its original lack of a door. Those Victorian-age people had strange ways, lol.

      • I love that movie! The scene to watch for occurs at 29:18 (two young women crawl through a window into the parlor), then at 29:21 another young woman steps over a different window sill into the parlor. I’ve always wondered if that was a common thing back then. Now I’m off to watch my favorite movie yet again. The Trolley song seems to be running through my brain and won’t go away.

  2. I had never noticed it either until Ross mentioned that the original entrance to his 2nd floor porch was through a window. It just seemed to jump out at me after that. I had to watch it twice to make sure I wasn’t imagining it. I also find myself scrutinizing the light fixtures in the fictional Smith house and wondering if they were anything like the original Cross lights. Ross has ruined movie-watching for me forever!

  3. Our front porch has a low mansard, topped by a large flat area which originally had a railing around it. We have pictures from 1903 showing the builder’s family standing on top of the porch. We have restored the porch to it’s original appearance, with the exception of the railing. Like yours, the floor of this area is about 8″ higher than the floor inside the house, and it is accessed through a window. The difference in floor heights isn’t an issue, the only problem I have is getting through a single hung window without throwing myself flat, or pulling the wife’s draperies outside with me…so I think your idea about making a door that looks like a window makes a LOT of sense! I may have to do something like that myself, so I will be waiting to see how that works…

  4. Since the window was an original architectural feature wouldn’t it make sense to restore the window? Just a thought.

  5. For Jeannie and anyone else that wants to climb out of a window to the porch, here are instructions… 🙂
    1. Raise or remove the blinds, and pull drapes back away from the window opening; this should prevent costly damage to them, and prevent hanging yourself.
    2. Raise the window as far as it will go. Since most windows in old houses are narrow, you will need as much height as you can get.
    3. Put you left foot out onto the porch and sit down on the window sill.
    4. Try to twist you head outside. If your window opening is tall enough, this should be easy. If not, then start the process by sticking your head out before your foot, then repeat step 3.
    5. Get a good grip on the window trim. This is important, especially if you don’t have someone already outside to help you get your balance.
    6. Take a deep breath, then slowly put your weight on your left foot, and pull yourself up and out of the window.
    7. Grab for anything you can get ahold of to stop your fall.
    8. Roll to the edge of the porch. Hopefully, your porch has a balustrade, and this is the last step other than picking yourself up. If your porch does not have any type of railing, proceed to step 9.
    Step 9. Roll off the edge of the porch, hopefully you are on the ground floor. After leaving the porch, yell to your neighbors, as they will be the ones who call 9-1-1 on your behalf.
    Step 10. Once you are home again from the hospital, replace the window with a door.

    • Oh Mike, that’s too funny! I also picture a fold out pamphlet with stick figures and badly worded text!

  6. I have the same issue with reaching a small eve porch out through a double hung window in the lower sash. I love the idea of a door that looks like two sashes. You’ll have to keep me posted. I also love that you are putting the window back. You are just too fabulous for your own good. Why aren’t people like you as rich as Bill Gates and sharing your gifts with the world. sigh . Hope you’re well

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