I am Detroit-born model, with a 1957 build date.
My family lived in Westland (suburban Detroit). When I was fifteen we moved to St. Petersburg, Florida.
In 1975, I graduated from St. Petersburg High School.
In the fall of 1978 (its scares me how long ago this seems), I moved to New York City to stake out a career as an architectural designer.
After some spectacular misadventures, in 1985 I founded my own architectural design firm, and rode out the 1980s furiously creating custom-built apartments in one condominium tower after another. It was an exciting, creative, but ultimately exhausting time.
I left New York in 1991, and, after a real-estate development which imploded, I settled in Newport, RI, where I — somehow — became an environmental, urban planning, and transportation advocate known across the state.
The ramifications of the imploded real-estate development continued to haunt me, and by 1996 I finally lost everything. In April, I left Newport, with but a backpack, to wander America.
After various adventures including working on an organic farm, I rode a bicycle to Kansas where I settled into a quiet life surrounded by the largest remaining prairie in America, covering the gently rolling Flint Hills.
The years passed, I rebuilt my life, managed to get two books published, and worked to emotionally recover from the 1990s.
I also created a business restoring vintage lighting, and, through the wonder of the internet, my business, located in the middle of nowhere, reached a national audience. From the start the business thrived.
The success of the business forced a relocation to a structure large enough to house it, and my personal life, and in 2014 I purchased the historic Cross House in Emporia, KS, about fifteen miles east of where I have lived since 1996.
Me, through the ages:
Hah! Isn’t life unexpected?
I am delighted to see how you look like. Thanks for posting.
I think you deserve more support for restoring the Cross house. How about the National Preservation Alliance?
Although it seems tempting talking from an Amsterdam, Holland, perspective, historic listing also makes it harder while renovating or restoring back to original. Even putting in electrics might be prohibited…
Great website Ross I am gonna follow. Thanks and have a great day.
Thanks for the kind words, Marc.
I cannot speak for Holland, but here in Kansas, I have never had any difficulty restoring the Cross House due to its being listed on the National Register.
I like the 2008 version best. But the 1978 – what’s going on with the massive amount of chest hair? lol
I have stumbled across your blog a number of times and have admired your beautifully restored fixtures on ebay for years (not knowing, of course, that it was you). Thought I send you a message because I feel a kind of kinship with your life’s trajectory and interests. Perhaps I will meet you someday.
I too am a transplanted Michigander (Philadelphia now by way of Westland, then Farmington Hills), erstwhile architect, house restorer, and lover of antique lighting. My house is an Italianate twin that was built in 1861. I have ended up restoring a number of gas or gas style kerosene lights for the house . . . I had originally used reproduction gasoliers but have replaced those first fixtures one by one with true antique fixtures I have managed to find. . .
I see you haven’t posted about the house in awhile . . . any new projects recently?
Nice to meet you!
Oh, I wanna see images of your 1861 home!
Also, I am confused by this: “I see you haven’t posted about the house in awhile…”
I post almost daily. What is the date of the last post you are seeing?
Thanks so much for the bio! I often wondered how you ended up in the Flint Hills! Cross House is progressing so beautifully and you have seemed to thrive on the creativity and love of the restoration! Continued good luck and I love following your blog! I am also glad for the recent posts about lighting and restoring some very beautiful pieces. I was very worried about your vintage lighting business. Best wishes on your continued great success!
Looking at your last photo and how you are eating better and all that…could you share the new diet please?
I want to turn back the years and get new DNA to look fabulous again!
I remember those 70’s – back then everyone had big or long hair – I thought it was cool when I was growing up – we were very lucky indeed.
We grew up with Barbie, with The Monkees, The Beatles, The Carpenters, The Jackson Five, and when we were really little we had the Twist and the mashed potato. All those crazy dances and then we got Barry White and The Supremes, and we even catched the eighties and danced to Madonna’s Vogue and We Can Dance, and we had the crazy fashions, the hippies, the minis and midis, HAIR and Pinball Wizard – then I don’t know – for me one day I woke up and the music was different and I didn’t like it.
Suddenly I didn’t like Beyoncé dressing like a demonic entity or Eminem cursing foul mouth, or all those songs about death and suicide and I said to myself: am I lucky someone invented youtube? Go there and go back to the music you like!!! So we always can go back to that place that made us happy – even in our worst days – when the day is going bad – just start to sing THE morning after – and after a while you’ll be singing – its raining men alleluyah!!!! lol!!! Let someone else sing Chandelier…am singing: You are so vain…lol!!!
I enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles and usually do them in Magic Jigsaws on the computer. I did one today that was user-submitted and the style looks like it could be another Squires house. I don’t know where it’s located, but it looks like it’s been well-maintained. I’d love to send you a picture of it, if you wouldn’t mind sending me your email address. I promise not to sell it or bug you.
Ross, I found your blog quite by accident last week after listening to an interview with you on youtube. This whole week I have spent many hours reading your posts and looking at your photos of your progress. It’s impressive and inspiring. Also, THANK YOU for putting them in chronological order! Yesterday I caught up to your current posts and immediately started reading about your lights, your town and “other cool stuff”.
I feel a sudden and overwhelming new found appreciation for my own 1913 house designed by a local female architect, Joel Roberts Ninde. I found myself in the basement dusting my heater after I turned it on for the first time this season. Mind you, this was at 1 in the morning after sitting outside in my car not wanting to stop reading your blog. I wanted my heater to feel loved and appreciated after not having been noticed at all for the last 6 months. Throughout the years, of course there have been modifications to my home: new windows, “updated” bath and kitchen. ( I have a vintage tub and sink in the garage just waiting to be installed. I went without a kitchen sink for 3 years in search of the perfect one!) Yet, much of the inherent beauty remains- wood floors, wide woodwork, french doors.
I want to say thank you for sharing your story. You lead by example and teach through your words and pictures. I applaud and admire your dedication to getting it right in your house. I also appreciate how you’re willing to take risks and follow your gut in your decorating. I also am in awe at your willingness to follow where your new ideas lead and learn new/old skills. It’s uplifting. You show so much respect to your house in your dedication to keep it neat and remove the blight. Honestly, I makes me almost ashamed that I have spent almost no time in home care for months.
Also, while I was reading your blog this week, my friend was dying. She passed away this morning and I am in a pensive, heartbroken state. All I could think to do was to write to you to encourage you, bolster you, implore you to continue with your work on your house. It will long be a testament to you and the idea that anything can be achieved through hard work and dedication. You probably have NO idea how impactful you are to people. When you take your pictures and write your words, you’re making the world a better place, as you mention frequently in your posts. You really ARE making the world better. I am grateful for you.
I would have preferred to send this as a letter to you, but found no email address.
Thank you, thank you for saying hello. I am quite moved by your kind words; they mean a lot to me. It is both humbling and amazing to think that my small blog about an old house in the middle of Kansas can touch people across the globe.
I also want to wrap you in my arms over the loss of your friend, and give you a looooong hug.
Tonight, when I start to fall asleep, I will think of you, your friend, and will shower stardust on her new journey.
Your touching reply moves me to tears. Thank you for your kindness and heartfullness.
The feeling is a billion-percent mutual.
Hi, Ross. Thank you for increasing my faith that in the future I will recover the house from my childhood here in Brazil. Since 1979 when I was still a boy, I never forgot that house. That house made me and I always think of it as “my home”. Anyway, your work, strength and tremendous joy in your voice are an incentive for me and for so many others. God bless you today and always.
Hugs from Brazil. Mauro Chantal
Here from JMG. I have been impressed with the house update posts on JMG over time, but this is my first visit to your blog. I am a native Midwesterner, grew up in Cincinnati OH, have lived in St.Louis MO for past 33 years, and enjoy seeing the architectural sights of city and small town Midwest America, the town halls and local worthys’ houses of rural county seats as well as the prestige public buildings of importance in larger cities. Congratulations on your work.
What a delight to meet you!
I stumbled onto your restoration while I was searching the internet for interior design videos. What a moving story!! I’m in Colorado, but am originally from a tiny town in Kansas where plenty of Victorian homes are situated near the main drag. But of course, none of them as large as yours. But I remember standing in the street, gazing up at one of those Victorian homes, and wishing it were mine. I sincerely understand how anyone could fall in love with a house like yours!! Anyway, here’s to your happiness and continued creative projects, and thank you so much for sharing!!
Thank you, Barbara! It’s very nice meeting you!
Oh Ross, you crack me up!! Since I am desperately waiting for another house update, I was digging through some of your “menu items” that I have overlooked till now. I love that you posted your photos from over the years…and when I got to the last one I laughed out loud!! It has been a rough year, and I sure needed a good laugh. Just love your wit!
Thank you, Linda!
I also laughed having fun with that last picture!
Found your interview with Circa House on YouTube inspiring. I love your passion for restoration and preserving a home that is meant to outlive us and be enjoyed for the next 100 years. I am also inspired and amazed that you also restored your youthfulness. Those makeover reality shows have nothing on you. It must be your attention to details. I look forward to reading about it as I explore your site here.
Thank you, Cat!
And very nice to meet you!
OMGOODNESS….. I am so completely in love with you and your home! I’m married, but it’s all good, because my husband feels the same.
We have “build dates” of 1954 and 1960…..we LOVE your hair! And, wow, nice work with the new makeover….of both you and, of course, your home. Care to bottle some of the rejuvenation juice and send to this little grandma?
My hubby was a home builder and highly in awe of your accomplishments. I’m not a ex-house builder but I’m in awe as well.
In complete seriousness, wonderful home and a fantastic blog…..you’ve got pals and kindred spirits here in Minnesota.
Stay safe, healthy, and may God Bless….. Michele Avelsgard Engholm
What a delight to meet you, Michele!
BIG hug to you and your husband!
And you as well! 🤗
Brilliant!! Really enjoyed discovering your blog. You are one good reason I’m not bored having time stay at home during the current pandemia event. Thank you.
Thank you for saying hello, Nora!
I am completely gobsmacked here. OMG! You lived, are living, and will be living my dreams. I am completely astounded, envious, and grateful for what you are accomplishing. I want to come to Kansas and be a work slave just to be part of what you are accomplishing. WOW, just wow. And a lighting restorer too, what?? Sigh, just sigh. I am caregiver to 3 WONDERFUL special need guys whom I raised from children on into adulthood.And while I wouldn’t trade where life has taken me since HS graduation in 1979, I cant help but wish I also got to live my dreams……Archt. design, lighting restoration, and restoring a huge Victorian. I read every word and studied every picture with glee.
So, with anticipation and curiosity I ask: Do you have old interior pics showing original lighting? Also, if you don’t, do you have a lighting plan for the house? Styles, sizes, finished, ect…? Do you already own them? How fun!!
I look forward to reading more and more about your endeavor,
I don’t know how I got here, but I have spent the last three hours pouring over your blog. I find you extremely enjoyable to read, most definitely house restoration porn!! Your home is beautiful.
Thank you, Julianne! And very nice to meet you!
I been watching YouTube videos about re modeling very old buildings in Europe ( mostly England$“Restorian man” non stop and they slow the before and after ,and I ended watching your video .
I am fascinated by this kind projects .
Is too bad I can’t see how the interiors ended up .
Any way you seem very funny !
I saw your introduction pictures .
I am truly in awe. I don’t know how I found your amazing blog…I have been working my way through for the last 3 days and nights. I have learned so much…and can’t begin to thank you for all your knowledge and advice. I bought my 1891 QA Victorian 20 months ago and though it seems to have been well cared for internally..the exterior was hopelessly muddled. Most egregious was the removal of the turret followed by aluminum siding.
I have a long way to go….
Feeling less alone reading of so many others who share this love of saving and restoring these old beauties
I have been glued reading your blog for the past two weeks. I only read about the Cross House Restoration and didnt realize up until the late of 2020 posts that you are also a writter. Your blog was just like reading a beautiful book, I mean you had to be.
This being said, keep going and doing your amazing job.
Its very very much appriciated.
Thank you for the kind words, Kosovare. Nice to meet you! Ross
Amazing house, amazing rehaber! Just saw your journey on youtube and I’m now addicted to your blog. You have unbelievable talent! Hoping to make it to your part of the country some day so I can stand on the corner and drool over her! You said on the YouTube blog cast that you have always felt like you were waiting for something. I get ya. Me too. Glad you found what you were waiting for!
Nice to meet you, Rocky!
I just came across the Circa Houses youtube video interview with you and the cross house. Then of course I needed to check out your blog. Love what you are doing and understand that undeniable feeling that washes over when we find that house. I can say it feels like I’ve been possessed by the restoration angel. I just purchased a historic cottage in Pennsylvania. My second restoration alone so I also understand that longing to have a partner in the process. I would like to know more about the grant writer you worked with. I heard it is a lengthy process but I am sure worth it in the long run. Two thumbs up for the peacock wallpaper! Totally in love with it!
Thank you for any information you care to share.
Hello! Like many others, I found your blog, and I am having a great time reading it! Recently, I was lucky enough to get a job with my state’s historic preservation office in the file room. I get to look at pictures of old houses all day long! Then I go home and read blogs about old houses🤣
Thank you for sharing your adventures!
I purchased a 1742 townhouse in a village in Ennistymon, Co Clare Ireland that’s in starting to restore.
I work in a global commercial group real estate in NYC.
Looking forward to getting the right team working on it…
Rural Ohio model 1959 here…. all of the pictures look good… but honestly… that last one? Are you sure you want to go back in time and have to redo some experiences?? When I think of the age I felt best… even then, I would not want to go back and relearn some of the painful parts: there are good things yet to come! I enjoy reading about the Cross House and your adventures. If I win the PowerBall… you will get a boost there.
Ross have you seen this house? Saved from a life of being apartments.
Gorgeous parquet floors!