The Cross House
ABOVE: You are looking at the second floor of the Cross House, the southeast corner. Sorry for the dark blue patch, that is on the drawing I have.
The bedroom was, it seems, the housekeeper’s room. The door shown is right off the servant’s stair, although the door was actually placed a bit over to the west (left).
Then there was a blanket closet with drawers.
And a closet.
The why of this post is the windows. You see one at the bottom of the drawing, and it indicates two 30×30 sashes. There is another window to the east (right), and almost hidden by the blue rectangle.
But, the windows today are not 30×30. They are MUCH larger, I mean just HUGE, with each window having two 51-wide x 33-high sashes.
All evidence points to the huge windows being original.
This is the odd thing. This is actually very very odd. Whenever I give tours of the house I always stop in front of these windows and ask: “Why in the world were two HUGE windows in the housekeeper’s room?”
No one has been able to offer an answer, and we all depart the room with stumped expressions.
A week ago a thought occurred to me: Ah-ha! I might know the why of the why!
ABOVE: You are looking at an original blueprint of the Cross House, partial south facade. See the window on the second floor? That it what the architect intended. It was a good-sized window, and comparable in scale to all the other windows. But that is not what was actually installed, which was almost twice as wide. NOTE: The dormer, above the window and just to the left, was never built.
ABOVE: The windows in question. In the image one cannot appreciate their considerable size. But, I can assure you, this is instantly evident in person. Oh, and yes, the room is a wreck. In fact, all the rooms of the Cross House look like this. Some are much worse. But missing plaster does not overwhelm me, although missing trim would. Luckily the missing trim in the images is in the basement. Praise the Lord.
A MOMENT IN TIME
My Ah-Ha! moment was this:
THE YEAR: 1894
THE PLACE: This room in the Cross House
THE MOMENT: This room under construction
THE PLAYERS: Mrs. Susan Cross (owner) and Mr. Charles W. Squires (architect).
Susan: “Mr. Squires, I was standing in this room over the weekend, with a glass of lovely wine, and had a thought. Do you mind if I offer it for your reflection?”
Charley: “Certainly Mrs. Cross. I am always delighted to hear your ideas.” [NOTE: This would not likely have been true. NO architect likes to hear the ideas of their clients. I mean, everybody knows this.]
Susan: “Well, I was worried about all my exotic plants. They are fine in their tubs during the summer, but I really need a place for them in the winter. This room has such lovely light, as it faces south and east. So, well, I was wondering if you could perhaps, if it were not any trouble, make the windows a lot larger?”
Charley: “Oh! I see! Well, would you mind terribly if I thought about this overnight?” [NOTE: Mr. Squires is actually thinking: Damn. The windows are already ordered. And we are already so behind. How many more change orders must I put up with?]
Mr. Squires smiles pleasantly at Mrs. Cross.
THE NET EFFECT:
Mrs. Cross got her windows. And a much chagrined housekeeper was kicked upstairs to the expansive third-flloor attic.
While I have no proof as to this exchange, I am certain — certain! — that this is what happened. The room, indeed, would have made a wonderful conservatory. Such rooms were all the rage in the 1890s, and it was common for Very Large Houses to have a conservatory.
Ok, I might be wrong about all the above. Perhaps Mr. Squires had two huge windows left over from another job, and slipped them into the housekeeper’s room.
We will likely never know the why of the why.
Anyway, I really love my very small room with the very large windows. I often look at the windows, smile, and think: What is your story?