The Cross House

An Unexpected Discovery


Today, while looking in the garage of the carriage house for something, I came across this totally fabulous stair handrail. Where was it from?


DELICIOUS acorn end.


FABULOUS hardware. Bo is going to love this!


But where was it from?

Luckily, Bob Rodak came by the house today. Bob sold the house to me in 2014.

So, I asked Bob about the short rail. “Do you remember where this was from?”

Bob pondered a moment and replied: “I think…think…maybe the south exterior entrance?”

After Bob left, I raced with the rail to the south entrance.


Oh! It seemed to fit!


The high end actually fits into a hole in the door trim! I never even noticed the hole before!


When I got home I went right to the CD of images Bob graciously gave me in 2014. And, golly, there is the railing!




It is just a small thing, the railing. But I am soooooooooo excited!

These small details, so easily lost over time, make such a difference in making an old house feel like an old house.

The south facade will be restored in 2018 and what a thrill it will be to return the restored railing back to its original location!



20 Responses to An Unexpected Discovery

  1. Dear god, those pictures! The poor house was such a mess in 1999. Do you ever look back and just gasp? The difference is incredible.

  2. Oh my goodness…just like putting a house back together from bits and pieces…like tinker toys. Glad you found that cute railing piece.

  3. Incredible! And so beautiful. The little embellishments and details that went into Cross House simply amaze. I think the acorn rail may be my favorite as it reminds me of a hitching post my dad turned for the 1857 home he and Mother restored and where I was raised.

  4. What a great discovery! The amount of time and effort they put into the small details is so impressive, and they did it all without modern power tools! In the picture from 1999, it looks like there was a column that is no longer there. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but is the stone base (I forget what they’re called) is the same one that is now the “extra” one on the main porch? (the one that doesn’t belong in front of what I think you call the “sweep?”)

    • Hi, Kerri!

      The column in the 1999 images? I only have a part of it. It is impressively rotted. It was wood from top to bottom, and unlike all the other columns in its being SO tall.

      I will be recreating the column in 2018. Right now there is a tall 6×6 post in its place.

  5. Cool. I’ve wondered why the entrance under the porte-cochère wasn’t more grand – it’s just a small door. Wouldn’t that have been where guests would embark from a carriage and enter the house without braving the elements? To get to the grand front door, they’d have to leave the porte-cochère.

    • Hi, Anne!

      I believe the south entrance was the private family entrance. So, I don’t think guests would have used it.

      The west entrance is the grand entrance, for guests.

      The east entrance was for staff.

      I have no idea why there is a north entrance. It does not seem to really have a point.

      • I’ve noticed that a lot of old houses have multiple porches. Maybe it’s because I’ve been through a house fire, I always thought that the multiple porches were a safety feature – in case of fire, the more exits the better! It could also be that the main entrance was strictly used for guests. The family may have used the north porch for strolls around the neighborhood and the south porch when traveling further afield. I grew up in a 1960s tract home and the only time the kids were allowed in the “formal” living room was at Christmas.

      • Perhaps a smoking porch? It could have been a great spot for tobacco if Mrs. Cross wouldn’t let him smoke in the house, and sheltered from the summer sun.

  6. Very cool!

    I wholeheartedly agree that it’s the little details that really make a place. It’s probably what’s most overlooked on modern residential architecture. Too much time spent on picking different random features, and little, if any, effort in a holistic theme and small details to tie it all together.

  7. What a great find. The acorn end is such a wonderful aesthetic statement. Not to diminish that, my fascination is with the iron bracket. Not only does this two-piece wonder have beautiful detailing, but the way the support bracket, which attaches to the wall is held to the rail. There is that second piece that attaches the bracket to the rail itself.

    Both pieces have all sorts of eye candy. The bracket itself has a cone-shaped end on an apparently circular shaft that keeps the rail in place.

    WARNING: Do not click on the link below if you are easily frightened by the trend toward increasing mediocrity in our society. It’s design principle is still used today in brackets like this from the big box store.

    The difference is that the big box store’s version makes the standard rail UGLY, UGLY, UGLY. Did I mention that they are UGLY.

    Your bracket, which you posted above, is a work of art and is a delight to the eye. I am in love with it!

    Aside from that I have no opinion about the bracket or rail.

    My prayer to whatever greater power there may be is:

    I have spent my life working with wood, and learning a bit about the restoration of beautiful decorative arts. Next life May I learn as much and become as good at iron and metalworking. As a caveat, I wouldn’t mind keeping the woodworking skills too.

    Is that too much to ask?

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