Baby Stepping

Something never seen in the 128-year history of the Cross House: A dumbwaiter shaft from the second floor down to the basement. The shaft originally was only between the first floor and basement. The wood paneling (kinda like center) is the original ‘car siding’. This is still made, and will soon panel the entire shaft. Ross excited.


In order to install the final plumbing for the kitchen sink, the original wainscoting needed to be reinstalled. Here, the many layers of caked-on paint have been removed, and the original shellac finish has been recreated. Ross excited.


For no good reason whatsoever, I decided to restore ONE door in the whole house: the door from the kitchen to the basement. It is the most pitiful door in the house and I grew weary of its condition. Soon, it will be restored to its original shellacked finish and should look splendid. Ross excited. (NOTE: I thought the infrared stripper should be ideal. But, I discovered that old-fashion paint stripper requires the east effort. The trick is to glob the stripper on a section and walk away for 24 hours. Then, the many layers of paint pretty much come off easily.)


Before I can move in, all the floors need to be finished. In the dining room, the titanic-heavy radiator needed to be removed as the floor joist supporting it had been inexplicably removed (???). The radiator, thus, was being supported only by the flooring. This is bad. It was actually sinking into the floor on the west side, and this caused a leak which has been rotting out the flooring. This is VERY bad. Hi Scott (L) and Justin!


After much ado, the radiator is moved. Now, The Other Justin can repair the damaged floor (covered by the 1×12 board) after Justin reinstates the lost floor joist. Ross excited.


The south hall has a ceiling! The original ceiling was removed before I purchased the house. A trunk line for the AC was then installed below the original ceiling plane, which I removed in 2014, and then replaced with another trunk line. Hi young Brock (L) and Scott! 


Light! Light! There is lighting in the hall for the first time in who knows how many decades! Ross excited! The vertical bump-out (upper right) will soon be matched with a bump-out on the ceiling, meeting up with the original vertical bump-out (left), thus recreating a lost original feature.


Light! See the marble?


It is finally back in the powder room after eight years. I had to remove it to rebuild the wall behind it. The blue tape shows where the 1894 marble vanity was. Above it, you can see the outline of a later high-backed sink. This was later replaced with a third sink.


The west slab back in place, topped with original trim. Ross excited! You can see the outline of the late 1920s tub, which I removed in 2014. The marble is actually quartz. It needs cleaning. It is desperate for cleaning. The floor is original but was altered in the late 1920s. I plan to fully restore it. This will excite Ross to no end.


Oh! Back to the south hall! The 2014 trunk line had to shift UP to avoid the door to the left and its transom window. You can see the new ceiling plane, right. But, how to bridge this?


An elegant S-curve seemed ideal. Justin cut 2x10s to shape but the curve was not quite right. So, I created a paper template and Justin has now redone the 2x10s. We tried to use very thin sheetrock but it was obvious this would not work. After much ado I realized that the curve needed to be created from plaster on lath. Ross excited!


You see the south entry door. To its immediate right is where the library door was relocated in, I think, 1929. I removed that in 2014 and moved it to where Brock is. Now, I have moved the door back to almost its original location. I have the missing Lincrusta and trim.


While restoring the south hall was not remotely on my to do list for 2022 it unexpectedly became a project. All renovation projects are like this.

The hall became a project due to:

Moving the library door back to its near-original location meant that the flooring under would need to be redone. The idea of having all the floors done and then having The Other Justin return to later redo this small area seemed…not ideal.

Before I can move my lights into the basement, ALL the plumbing and electrical need to be finished. This work included, as it developed, the south hall. I also need to redo the central vac system, and this included moving the wall hook-up from where the library door has now been relocated. The hook-up is now where Justin’s hand is in the picture above.

And so on.

While an unexpected project, getting the south hall restored will excite Ross greatly.





  1. Barb Sanford on July 3, 2022 at 11:29 pm

    Wowzers! These don’t feel like Baby Steps(TM) to me. They feel like giant leaps! It’s so satisfying to see all the progress you’re making. Congratulations, Ross!

    • Laurie L Weber on July 4, 2022 at 6:05 pm

      Barb – that was my first thought! Huge steps! So awesome to see! 🙂

  2. Bill Froberg on July 3, 2022 at 11:58 pm

    Am curious if the laundry chute and dumbwaiter will extend to the 3rd floor.

    • Ross on July 4, 2022 at 12:01 am

      They will not, Bill.

      • Bill Froberg on July 4, 2022 at 7:18 am

        Roger that. I do believe that all the above progress is more than baby steps it seems more like a real life version of Tetris and you are on the the Expert level and everyone you are working with is leveling up.

      • Dan Goodall-Williams on July 4, 2022 at 10:28 am

        Hurray!! Lots of progress. Looking so great! Can’t wait for more!

      • Christine on July 4, 2022 at 4:09 pm

        Oh, I just asked the same thing before I read the other comments. Too bad it can’t be extended.

  3. Brian A on July 4, 2022 at 12:33 am

    I don’t think we’ve ever really seen photos of the south hall before! It shows such a different perspective of the house.

  4. Leigh on July 4, 2022 at 2:52 am

    Bravo Ross, Justin, Scott, The Other Justin and Brock! Impressive work and problem-solving!

  5. Julie on July 4, 2022 at 8:04 am

    Not Baby Steps, Giant Leaps! Good Lord, you must be beside yourself with joy. Does your face hurt from smiling? Do you find yourself just standing and staring, grinning like an idiot?

    Relish every bit of it, Ross. And don’t forget to take breaks…. if only to stare and smile more!

  6. Christy B on July 4, 2022 at 8:32 am

    Very exciting to see all the progress!!

    The geologist in me is skeptical that the bathroom panels are quartzite.

    Have you tried dropping acid? Like hydrochloric acid. On the stone. Vinegar would work too, though not as dramatically. Clean a spot on the back with water to remove dust, make a little scratch (if you can), and put a drop of the vinegar on. It should start to fizz if the stone is marble.

    There’s also the scratch test. If it’s marble, a penny should scratch the surface. For quartzite even a steel nail won’t leave a mark. Alternatively, use a sharp edge of the stone to scratch glass. Quartzite will scratch glass, marble will not.

    Love the work you do and love that you share the results with all of us!

  7. Sandra D Lee on July 4, 2022 at 9:24 am

    Astonishing progress!

    Amazing restoration efforts & planning!

    This is just remarkable Ross!

  8. Paul on July 4, 2022 at 9:36 am

    Wow! These don’t look like baby steps to me!
    It so amazing to see the transformation. You are giving this beautiful home it’s life and dignity back. It’s an absolute thrill to see the progress.

  9. Kate R on July 4, 2022 at 11:29 am

    Wow, so many amazing details. Congrats!

  10. CMYukon on July 4, 2022 at 1:13 pm

    So many Wows! Such excellent work done by all. 🙂

  11. Christine on July 4, 2022 at 4:04 pm

    Oh Ross, what a treat to see a post on the Cross house progress. I’ll bet you’re thrilled with the thought of checking yet another space off the list.
    Ross, are you going to store lights on the third floor? Wouldn’t it be so convenient to put them in the dumbwaiter and send them to the third floor instead of having to carry them?? I don’t know if there’s space to build the shaft up yet another floor, but while you’re at it, why not?? (Besides the cost, obviously) and maybe you already considered it and dropped the idea.

    Anyway, thank you for keeping us in the loop. And keep up the consistent, challenging work. Your progress is so inspirational.

    • Ross on July 4, 2022 at 9:11 pm

      Christine, I will not be storing lights on the third floor. I plan to Airbnb the floor.

  12. Kari on July 4, 2022 at 6:25 pm

    I don’t comment very often, but I wanted to say thank you for sharing this process with all of us. I love checking in on the Cross House and seeing what’s new, especially when you are able to reinstate something that has been missing from the house for decades. Thank you for bringing this house back from the brink of ruin. It is going to be glorious when you are finished and I hope to see it one day!

    • Ross on July 4, 2022 at 9:10 pm

      It’s very nice to meet you, Kari!

  13. Cindy Belanger on July 4, 2022 at 6:35 pm

    Wow, so many baby steps it seems, all at once. Combining into a few giant steps. It will be wonderful to see all of these projects completed. And so much closer to moving in. I would be excited too, to say the least.

  14. Mike on July 5, 2022 at 1:10 pm

    It’s good to see progress made on the Cross House again after so much of your time has been diverted to the carriage house. These old houses can get a little jealous of one another, LOL…and we wouldn’t want the old gal to do something desperate to get your attention! I am curious what brand of paint stripper you use that you’ve had such good luck with; I tried two or three different brands when I started out a few years ago and gave up on them; it might be because most of what I am stripping is in place, and the stripper would run down the vertical surfaces and onto the floor. I’ve used my Cobra infrared for the past few years and done pretty well with it.

  15. Terri M on July 5, 2022 at 1:33 pm

    Awesome update! I’m excited with you! Getting closer to moving in with each step has to feel wonderful!

  16. Jakob on July 5, 2022 at 3:55 pm

    Excellent progress! I am shocked, shocked I tell you, they altered the bathroom floor when they added the tub and didn’t merely throw a tub over the old tile. How on earth they got the tile border up and moved without breaking them, I’ll never know. The S-curve in the hall is most elegant. It pleases me to no end that the hall is getting done sooner than expected; isn’t that your main way in and out if I recall correctly? Pour yourself a glass or two of something nice tonight, you’ve earned it!

  17. Chris on July 5, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    oooooh, progress! I love seeing parts of the house come back to life. and the south hall feels like a whole new world. Good job Ross! Readers excited.

  18. Candy on August 9, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Paint stripper tip! After globbing it on, throw a layer of plastic shrink wrap over it! Your life will change!

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