The Cross House

A New Discovery!

This is what I call the Round Bedroom, in the NW corner of the second-floor. See the closet to the lower right?


It was intended as a small dressing area and closet. However, it was not built as drawn. Note the 2-foot, 8-inch-wide door to the dressing area. It opens oddly. One would kinda have to back up whenever opening it from the bedroom side. It should be hinged on the other side, but this would mean that when left open it would cover the adjacent window.


However, what was DRAWN and what was BUILT did not quite align. Rather than a wide opening between the dressing area and closet, there was a narrow wall, and a narrow door.


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In 1929, when the second-floor was converted into apartments, the dressing area and closet were combined to create a bathroom. What is really weird though, is that the narrow door was made wider, and moved to the left, becoming the door between the bedroom/bathroom. But why was this done? Why not just keep the door that was originally in the same location?


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Here is the narrow door. You can see how it has been made wider. On both sides, too.


But why?

Why remove the narrow door, make it wider, and install it in a location which already had a door?

Or…maybe there never WAS a door to the bedroom????????


This got me to thinking. And so I looked at the door stop trim around the ‘extended” door (a door stop is a thin piece of trim which stops the door).

Oh! The stop did not match all the other such trim in the house!

This indicated that my suspicion was correct. Although there was a door OPENING between the bedroom and original dressing area, it seems that there had never been a DOOR.

If I removed the door stop, I surmised, I should find finished wood if my suspicion were correct (as this would prove that the door stop was added later). If the stop were original, there would be unfinished wood under.

But, with no door between the bedroom/dressing, there would have been no privacy for the dressing area. This seemed odd.


Oh! I wonder if the opening had a portière (a curtain between rooms)? If so, there might be some evidence of a round mounting bracket!


To test my theory, I removed the non-original door stop. WHAT was under? Finished wood? Or bare wood?


Zounds! FINISHED wood!


The finish is actually a faux wood finish, as is typical throughout the house. So, excited by this confirmation, I looked up to see if there was a tell-tale circular outline for a portière…


…and, ZOUNDS, there it was!


So this is what, I believe, was originally built. There was a portière between the bedroom and dressing area. This offered privacy without a door blocking the windows, or opening awkwardly.


Well, this is all a minor discovery, but nonetheless quite satisfying.

A part of me would like to recreate the original configuration, but I am loath to remove an en-suite bathroom.

So, the 1929 bathroom will remain, as will the extended door.

And, ya’ know, life is full of oddities, right?




13 Responses to A New Discovery!

  1. I thrill – THRILL, I tell you – to vicariously experience your foray into the past, and thank you for bringing truth and light to the present!

    I love the ghost of the portière hardware. Such discoveries make life so much more interesting…good job!

  2. Isn’t it wonderful when suspicions prove correct? It makes one actually feel qualified for the enormous task of bringing these houses back. And incidentally, your portiere rod is mounted low too… So are mine, and it’s been bugging me as it seems wrong somehow. So thank you for the confirmation!

    • That isn’t a real mystery to us real oldsters. There’s a window in the “dressing room.” If you’ve ever hung a portiere in a windowed room…with no air conditioning…you know that putting the curtain up against the jamb will create a draft that will blow the curtain out. And expose the dress-er. So you leave “breathing room” for the air circulation. That space is a kind of “transom” for yard goods. It works the same way, and the curtain stays in place when drawn. Yaay for air conditioning! One of those “I remember” things before the age of home air conditioning.

  3. So that’s the mystery of the door! Glad you got it figured out.

    I’ve been thinking about the bathroom downstairs that has the tiles that don’t go all the way to the wall. Was there an enclosed bathtub there? Like a built in bathtub?

    Just one of the things that keep me up at night, that and wondering where the original sink was at in the kitchen…

  4. You could always put a portiere up since it would be a private bathroom off of the bedroom.That way you could have the best of both time periods.A wood rod with wood rings in a fabric that would pick up the blue tile around the fireplace.

  5. I like the time and effort that the earlier remodelers took in repurposing the door. A modern contractor would just throw out the old one and get a new one of whatever style the local lumberyard had in stock.

    Our house actually has two modified-width doors, but I’m certain they were done when the house was first built. One is on the linen closet in the upstairs hall, which appears to be a 26″ door cut down to fit the 24″ opening. They had to use a non-standard knob backplate to fit on the narrowed stile. The other door was a stock 22″ door widened to fit a 24″ opening into a small room at the other end of the hall. I’ve since re-configured some walls to convert it to a walk-in closet from the master bedroom, with this door serving as a second entrance off the hall directly adjacent to the bathroom, so now it faces the hallway opposite the modified linen closet door. I could have the doors properly remade, but I think it tells a kind of neat story. I wish I knew why they were modified. Did the finish carpenter order the wrong sizes and make them work to meet his schedule? Did the lumberyard mess up the order? Maybe the carpenter got a good deal on some leftovers from another project? I would really like the know the rest of the story!

  6. I noticed on the plans that the door opened the wrong way into the bedroom. I’m glad Mr and Mrs Cross decided they didn’t really need a door there at all if it was going to open the wrong way.

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