The Cross House

A Surprise!

This is the south wall in the Round Bedroom. I have looked at this wall a thousand times. But yesterday I suddenly saw something new.


The big white square is where a murphy bed cabinet was installed in 1929. This was later turned into a closet. The cabinet is now dismantled and stored away. I plan to reinstall it.

But…look at the vertical rectangle to the left. This is what I never noticed before.

And all of a sudden what it represented was obvious.

See the door and trim to the right?

The white rectangle is where another door/trim was. And was there when the house was built.


You can clearly see the outline of the top corner trim block.


And the tell-tale vertical line where base molding has been infilled. Also, at the top of where the upper trim was, there is a hole in the plaster (see first image) revealing the header.


The arrow is where the door was.


But the Round Bedroom already had a closet. Why a door into the closet for the Hexagon Bedroom?

Today, I was showing this mystery to Justin. He immediately said: “I think both bedrooms shared the closet because it had built-in drawers. The two doors would have also allowed easy access between the two rooms.”

Of course. This made perfect sense.

Although the original drawing does not show the door, there are numerous such discrepancies between what was drawn and what was built.

The evidence is absolute: when the Cross House was finished both the Round Bedroom and Hexagon Bedroom shared a closet.

I am amazed/embarrassed it took me almost three years to recognize this!

I will not be reinstalling this lost feature because the closet is now a bathroom, and there is no way I am giving up any en-suite bathrooms!



10 Responses to A Surprise!

  1. Very interesting!

    My brother’s large 1910 Foursquare farmhouse in Illinois has a similar perplexing shared closet. It’s between two large upstairs bedrooms, with the doors st opposite diagonal corners. Someone long ago added a demising wall in the middle, creating two separate, more conventional closets, but it’s obvious the wall was a later addition. What’s also strange, is the doors to both open inward, which makes the now-smaller closets even less useful.

  2. You all don’t read enough period romances. Think dressing room between husband and wife bedrooms. (As good a guess as any!)

    • That made me laugh!

      Susan and Harrison Cross had one grandchild, who lived with them.

      I have always assumed the Round Bedroom was hers, because it is by far the most “girly”.

      So, a door between their bedrooms would make sense.

  3. Two houses I have owned (one built 1879, one 1885) had similar bedroom joining closets. They were always on a north/south axis. I believe yours is also. It was to get the breeze to flow through rooms from south to north and vice versa.

      • Remember the movie E.T. I believe the kids bedroom shared a closet. In my childhood I have seen Shared closests like this. Also, in the 1800’s the nanny/governess would always have and adjacent room that shared a door directly to the room. I have also seen and heard of the wife’s bedroom connected to the nursery by another bedroom door.

  4. Hey, Ross. Really been enjoying following both your cool lighting and your diligent work on that sweet Cross House. On wikipedia, I noticed not a mention of the Cross House….so….an edit was needed…check it out and hope I got it right…14 homes on the national register when the Cross House is included!! Now? A gorgeous photo needs to be added to that page…don’t you think??

  5. I always referred to this as a Jack and Jill closet, like the bathrooms. The three bedrooms on the 2nd floor of my home are connected, by a closet like this or a regular door. I read somewhere this was a security measure, if the bogeyman or whomever broke in, the family could lock the bedroom doors to the hallway but still be together and protected. This was as drawn in the 1897 plans.

    Could be the ventilation concern too, there are transom windows in the bedroom doors to the hallway and situated N/S as commented above.

    Or just hanky-panky.

  6. My house has a door between the (only) two bedrooms. It also has no heat or air conditioning of any kind upstairs, just the grills in each bedroom in the floors allowing heat from downstairs to get upstairs (not very effectively). When the doors are all open it greatly increases air flow upstairs in the summer, keeping it cooler.

    I toured Franklin Roosevelt’s house in New York. There was a doorway between his bedroom and Eleanor’s. Originally it had ONE lock, but after Eleanor found out about his lover, she installed two more- all locking him out but not her from his room.

  7. my sister had an apartment many years ago, in which the entrance to one bedroom was reached through the closet of another bedroom, for some inexplicable reason.

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