The Cross House

A Wallpaper Discovery!

It was thrill in late 2014 to discover the 1894 wallpaper in the two-story stair hall, and I did a post summing up what I had learned.

The paper was discovered in the upper stair-hall, or second floor. I assumed that the same paper had also been installed on the first floor of the stair-hall as both levels are visually connected. But I had no proof of this.


You see, not much tow irk with.
The paper had a silver ground with greenish flourishes. And because Bo is a magician, he…


Courtesy Historic New England
..found an actual sample. But with a green, rather than silver, background. To state that I was gobsmacked would be an understatement. (Courtesy Historic New England.)


This weekend I was working in the back hall on the first floor. The hall was originally open from the stair-hall to the south entrance, but was divided at some point with a door and bit of wall, thus making the southern end private for an apartment created in the SE corner of the first floor. This bit of wall also covered whatever layers of papers were then present, and protected them.

The bit of wall was removed by the previous owner, Bob, thus revealing a thin full-height strip of ancient papers. I knew this strip was there but it never really registered as the hall has been a kinda storage area.

But this weekend I stood looking at this strip of multi-layered history and thought: What is under all the many layers?

The answer? Golly.

Scroll way down…





















Houston? We have visual confirmation.





So, the same paper was on the first-floor of the stair-hall!

But…and this is SO cool…it had a green background not silver; the lower paper matches the sample Bo found.


Thus, GREEN down; SILVER up. In a million years I would never have guessed this.

This is yet another reason why gutting an old house to the studs is a bad bad bad idea. Ancient walls are encoded with information. Why toss this into a dumpster?

Imagine standing on the first floor of the stair-hall in 1894, surrounded by its rich and elegant green paper, and then looking up through the huge stairwell opening, and seeing a lighter, silvery version of the same paper shimmering from muted sunlight through the stained-glass windows.

At night, with the gas chandeliers lighted, and their carbon-filment bulbs also dimly glowing, the effect must have been wondrous.

Oh, how I yearn to recreate this.




18 Responses to A Wallpaper Discovery!

  1. That is just delightful. What fun and so rewarding.Thank you for posting often it is a bright spot in our day.
    You were off all day Sunday. Glad you are back.

  2. That is very cool! I really like the idea of the same pattern in two colors across both stories. Was there a wallpaper band over the transition? It seems like even a precise installation would look a little unfinished if the two colors were just spliced at the transition.

    • There is but a small area where the upper walls are contiguous with the lower walls. I assume some sort of transition happened there.

  3. So having two colorways of the peacock wallpaper in the bathroom will NOT be a new concept for the Cross House, Ross. You’ve got a historical precedent. Personally, I LOVE having justification for doing something I already want to do!

    (PS I’ve been reading along for quite a while now. Time to chime in and tell you how much I love both you and your house.)

    • Ver nice to meet you, Celeste!

      And thank you for the kind words!

      Good call on the Peacock paper. You are right. Historical precedent abounds at the Cross House!

  4. Such lovely wallpaper! I’m trying to visualize the transition, and having problems (am not good at that sort of thing). Wish I had wizard-level computer skills so I could superimpose the scan of the paper over a photo of the hall.

  5. I wonder if someone has already had the pattern reproduced? Amongst the several companies that reproduce wallpaper from samples is a guy in Benicia, Ca. I think he works for Bradbury and Bradbury, or he did in the past. I have found a remnant of a similar paper in my house. I hope and pray that you find someone that won’t pick your pockets to reproduce it. As a good Catholic i’m praying for your success!

    • Have custom paper IS a very very very pricey thing. Particularly to do it right.

      The hardest thing to reproduce about the original stair-hall paper will be the dimpled background. This is not evident in the images, but would have made quite the impression in 1894!

      I did a post about getting some quotes on reproducing the paper.

  6. I have no idea how to do this, but it would be interesting to have the wallpaper chemically analyzed to see what comprises the green color. I’m sure you’ve considered the possibility that the paper upstairs has faded or come into contact with something that changed its color. Meanwhile the one downstairs was covered and retained its original hue.

    • There seems no doubt that DOWN was green and UP was silver.

      The stair-hall receives no direct light. It faces north and all the windows are stained-glass. It’s all rather moody and atmospheric! More church than house!

  7. I have a stack of plaster and drywall that I saved because it had old wallpaper attached to it. Any idea what I should do with this? (Or should I just put it in a box?)

  8. You are the inspiration I need.

    Bought a 1930’s Rock house. I was the third owner. The original owner went blind in early middle age and the house declined. The second owner, a professor owned it for 25 years and managed to fix roof awnings, some plumbing, and yard but became too overwhelmed.

    I knew it was going to be a lot of work but really had no idea how much. The college and hospital here are buying up property coming down my street and I now know that I will have to win the lottery to restore it but can’t quite sell it to be torn down.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

Leave a Response

Your email address will NEVER be made public or shared, and you may use a screen name if you wish.