The Cross House was built in 1894. It is located at 526 Union Street, in Emporia, Kansas. I purchased the house in March 2014.

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My blog posts about the restoration are below.


The Cross House, Emporia, designed by architect Charles M. Squires.
The Cross House, Emporia, designed by architect Charles W. Squires.

Currently displaying blog entries in Chronological Order. Switch to Most Recent.

Currently displaying blog entries in Most Recent Order. Switch to Chronological Order.

Magical Marble

MAGIC EVENT #1: Five days ago I did a post about a marble vanity. Mary, who reads this blog, found it on CraigsList and brought it to my attention. She thought it seemed perfect for the Cross House. And…it was!     However, it was a ten-hour drive away. So, that would be 2-days in… Continue Reading

A Marble Adventure?

Mary contacted me. She came across a marble vanity, and wondered f I might be interested.     It was advertised as a counter and backsplash, but the height of the backsplash seemed…unusual. I have never seen one that high. So, my excitement was mitigated a bit. I also worried that the marble “apron” was… Continue Reading

Should Old People Buy Old Houses?

I love the fabulous Kelly and her Old House Dreams, and donate to her every month, automatically, via Patreon. One thing I often notice is how people comment with something like this: I love this house and if my spouse and I were younger we’d take it on. Every time I see this I think:… Continue Reading

Fuchsia Madness

Today, the draperies arrived for the dining room! Why, one might ask, did Ross order draperies for a room which looks like a bomb has gone off in it, a room perhaps two years from being restored and decorated? Because…A SALE! My friend Patricia keep telling me: “Ross! Half Price Drapes is having this incredible… Continue Reading

A Column SQUEE!!!!!!!!

        This column, to me, was the poster child symbolizing the decay of the Cross House. For five years it taunted me. Each time I would gaze at it, I would feel a stab of pain. With every passing year I would grow ever more worried: Would I ever be able to… Continue Reading

A Mystery Revealed! Sorta.

  Do you see what I see? Why is all the trim in the room so dark (which happens when shellac ages) but not the door? The faux bois finish on the door appears near original, and was clearly not repeatedly re-coated with later layers of shellac like all the surrounding trim. I thought I… Continue Reading

Wanna Time Travel? A Belated Part 2

In 2018, I did two posts about about Phyllis and Louis, here and here. The second post was titled Part 1. And, at long last, I now present part 2! As I wrote in the first post: Phyllis and Louis were last in the house in the 1970s, when they first rented the Octagon Bedroom,… Continue Reading

Hardware Excitement

      The search, which I expected would be long and torturous, ended up taking but minutes. My first stop was Rejuvenation. A few clicks on the keyboard, and—zounds!—there they were. A few more clicks and four were mine. Would that everything be so easy.   Continue Reading

A Novel Question

I’ve never asked y’all this before: What fabric should I use?       Kyle recommended Fabric Guru. “I get lost on this site for hours and end up buying stuff that I have no immediate need for!” I scrolled through the site and became quickly overwhelmed! Right away, I ignored all the “grandma” fabrics.… Continue Reading

Upgrading the Past

I began painting the exterior of the Cross House in 2014, shortly after buying it. This had soooooooooooo not been my intention but I could not find a painter willing to take the job. So, I thought: Well, I’ll just begin and will soon find a painter. That day never happened. It is just as… Continue Reading


      Kyle is a gastroenterologist with a hematology subspecialty. Hasan is a computer scientist. Golly. While Kyle is the Cross House fan, and has read all the blog posts, Innes and Hasan also seemed to enjoy the tour. I noted that Kyle took a particular interest in the stained glass, and it was revealed… Continue Reading


      However…I have no intention of installing the doors. Mostly because they will then cover the gorgeous solid wood doors. Oh, the horror! In an age before air-conditioning, comfort would have overruled aesthetics but, with the house now being fully air-conditioned, this is now a moot point. So, why am I having the… Continue Reading

Wood Corner Guards

      I have been searching for vintage wood guards for years but have never come across a matched set of four. Then, a year ago, I noticed that the Cross House had wood corner guards! And they look nothing like what I was used to. So, I removed a guard from the Round… Continue Reading

Going Glossy!

      I have no idea why the right door is darker. It was not like that in 2014. At some point, a few years from now, I will bring the doors back down to bare wood, and bleach the right door. Or something. Then refinish again. In a few years. It’s nice how… Continue Reading

Looking Back. Taking Stock.

NOTE: This is my longest ever post. Make sure you have some time. And a glass of wine. And, this post will be much better on a computer rather than a smart phone. NOTE: The images may take a while to download.   2014 From my very first blog post: One thought pushed me over… Continue Reading

Please Stand By For…ZOUNDS!

Y’all have been asking: “Why has Ross stopped posting?” Well, my last post was on the 10th, so that means this is day 7 of no posts, the longest since I began this blog in 2014. Linda asked: O.k…, I am going to start checking area hospitals…and if you aren’t there, I am checking myself… Continue Reading

Roundly Excited

    There are two such windows. One was restored last year, but this matching window has taken forever. But, it now has new glass, the glazing is done, as is the priming and painting. Next, will be the laborious and careful scraping required to created laser-sharp edges where paint meets glass. This is easy… Continue Reading

In The Pink!

  The original columns look TERRIBLE. There are black from age, and the capitals look totally corroded. The pristine new columns offer a stark contrast. A scary contrast. Yet, through the wonder of elbow grease…         Continue Reading

Making My Own Built-In Gutter!

In 2015, I had the built-in gutters of the Cross relined with some space-age white goop. And, presto, the gutters stopped leaking! As time however would soon prove, my excitement was…premature. For, while the gutters did indeed no longer leak, several areas of gutter simply allowed water to cascade over their edges. And this caused… Continue Reading

My Monica Closet

In an episode of Friends, the obsessively compulsive Monica is discovered to be hiding a secret: a messy closet. I often think of this episode. For, I work hard at keeping the Cross House neat and tidy. I regularly vacuum top-to-bottom. As mentioned recently, I keep the lawn mowed and edged, and the windows clean.… Continue Reading

Micro Improvements

              There are three things which, I think, announce that a house is loved: A crisply cut/edged lawn. Flowers on the front porch. Clean windows.       Continue Reading

I Spy…!!!!!!!!

      I am soooooooooo excited about this. Bringing back the many lost columns to the main porch is something I’ve yearned for, yearned for since 1999, well before I purchased the house. And now, now, all the lost columns are in place. They are back. They are really there. Really! So much damage… Continue Reading

A Trip to the Magic Man

I always love visiting Scott. I bring him stained-glass windows in disturbing, depressing, and worrisome condition, and he magically transforms them. Today, I dropped of three stained-glass windows from the round bedroom. And I picked up a finished window.               There are 43 stained-glass windows in the house, which… Continue Reading

Taming Crazy

  When I purchased the house in 2014 it had but a single downspout. All others had been inexplicably removed, causing extraordinary damage over the years. I rushed to install spouts, and this one was cobbled together out of what I could find. The spouts aren’t normal, of course, but round. This used be common.… Continue Reading

A Stepping Consideration

            So, it seems obvious that if the extant three steps are all curvy, that maybe the missing one was, too? But I don’t think so. There’s the 1999 image of a straight run. And the steps might be original. They were rotted enough to be.     Thus, my… Continue Reading

I Spy…Oops.

      Today was a “feels like” temperature of 101 degrees with the heat and humidity. Ross not happy about this. Installing #4 was in full sun. Ross not happy about this, and he was soaked. After much bonking pounding and swearing, the capital and column would NOT align. This would be easy with… Continue Reading

I Spy…

          It is a THRILL seeing the two stone piers stand, again, alone as originally intended. And to see columns again? SQUEE!!!!!!!! Columns! Only the hand-carved capitals of the columns are original. All else is new, exactly replicating the originals.   A BACKGROUND STORY When I first saw the Cross House… Continue Reading

Two Old Guys. Decorating.

Today, I drove the 90 minutes to Dr. Doug’s huge 1904 house to deliver more period-correct lighting. He and I have been bartering. He gets lights. I get woodwork. Doug is soon to start on the lattice for my front porch! After hanging a sweet 3-arm fixture in the white bedroom, I stood back and… Continue Reading

Swept Away

Today, I arrived at the Cross House. It’s 90 degrees with very high humidity. It feels like an oven outside. But…the lawn needs mowing. I work hard at keeping the lawn mowed and edged because it conveys to the community that the house is being cared for. It is loved. Yes, the outside looks much,… Continue Reading

I Spy…

        The column looks SO out-of-place! It’s all pretty and pristine against sooooooo much decay! I am beyond excited. EXCITED!!!!!!!! In January, 2015, when I was able to return all the missing columns to the west face of the main porch, it would not have seemed possible that getting the south face… Continue Reading

Inching Along

    The #4 column is not shown, nor are all the bases. These are in the kitchen of the Cross House, while all the above are in the living room of the carriage house. I keep darting back/forth with a wet paint brush!     Continue Reading

10, 11, 12…SQUEE!!!!!!!!

                                          I call this the big sweep because the cornice sweeps around the corner. As will the railing and lattice. The latter two will be in by the end of the year! And what a… Continue Reading

Before. A Most Delicious After.

    This single corner has been overwhelming. And I have never said that about any project on the Cross House. The work began in October! Eight friggin’ months ago! EIGHT MONTHS! While the work has not been continuous for all those months due to cold weather or rain, it has nonetheless been eight months… Continue Reading

1, 2, 3…SQUEE!!!!!!!!

      The twin single stone plinths are, once again, revealed, and as they were intended to be. They will have lattice between them, and a railing. It’s hard to believe that by the end of the year all this should look fabulous! Hard. To. Believe. And when it is all done…I will reveal… Continue Reading

A Historical Discovery!

One would think that, five years into the Cross House, I would no longer be surprised to discover anything about the house. Well…Mick just proved this assumption wrong. Just twenty minutes ago I did a new post, and Mick asked a question.     Mick asked: “I have to wonder… the two single piers so… Continue Reading

Reversing Time in the Carriage House

Recently, I did a post about the interior of the carriage house. When i purchased the house in 2014, the entry had a wide, trimmed opening into the living room. To each side of the opening were low walls, clearly 1970s plywood, topped with two petite wood columns, and a pair of oak brackets in… Continue Reading


When I purchased the Cross House in 2014, about half of the twenty main porch columns were missing. One of my first goals was to restore all twelve columns to the west face of the L-shaped porch.       The missing columns had been lying in the backyard for many years, slowly moldering away.… Continue Reading

Inching Along. In a Riveting Way.

My neighbor, Eric, a fellow Squires home owner, climbed out on the scaffolding with me for a visit. I pointed out my current worry: the huge galvanized cornice no longer met the end wall due to settling. I was filling this gap with sheet metal, attached with self-tapping screws. “Oh, no. You should use rivets,”… Continue Reading


  Beverly, for her birthday, booked the full tour! She drove up from Texas and, after she stepped into the entry hall…she cried. And cried! Sandy smiled at me, and I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. “Oh, Ross! I’m soooooo sorry! I’ve read every blog post! And to suddenly be IN the Cross House… Continue Reading

Is it true? Is it possible? Do my eyes deceive me?

    I am beyond sick of this corner! I have never felt this way about any other aspect of the project to date. What began as a simple project (infill some missing shingles) ballooned into a total redo: framing, sheathing, cornice repair, two window frames rebuilt, and only then the tedious work of custom-cutting… Continue Reading


It came to my attention, belatedly, that my blog was having issues. None of these would have been apparent to a reader, save one. It seems that people who had signed on to automatically receive new posts were no longer getting such notices. This included me as well! This is being worked on. In the… Continue Reading

Taming the Meandering Monster Spout

When I purchased the Cross House it had but a single downspout still in place, and this, combined with leaking built-in gutters, caused most of the damage to the house. Hurriedly, I installed downspouts.     But, later this year, the south facade will actually look good. I know, that seems impossible! So, something will… Continue Reading

Building Scaffolding…While Drunk

  Yes, I’m kidding. We were quite sober but doesn’t the scaffolding look like it was built by drunks? When Justin and I finished we stood on ground level…and burst out laughing. It looks SO crazy! The new level will allow the huge cornice to get painted, as well as finishing the shingling on the… Continue Reading

A Columnar Dilemma

  I really hate that post. For five years I have ignored it but, as the big push this year is finishing the south facade, something will have to be done about that 6×6 post. But what?         Ideally, the entire LONG length of the column should be made of one solid… Continue Reading

Patty Wanted To Know…

  The image terrifies me! OMG, that’s all that’s been done on the south facade? Up close, it seemed like a lot! And look at how much more there is still to do! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! That’s it! I’m running for the hills!     Continue Reading

The Carriage House Is Blowing My Mind

The 1894 Cross House had a carriage house/barn on the adjacent south lot. Circa-1920, the structure was sold off, and moved forward on the lot a bit; the north “barn” was severed, rotated, and became the east wing of the renovated structure.                   And this realization got… Continue Reading

Pondering the Carriage House

    The Cross House. The carriage house. The “barn”. Around 1920s, the double lot was cut in half, and the carriage house/barn sold off. The carriage house was moved a bit forward on the lot, the “barn” was severed, turned 90-degrees, and moved behind the carriage house. Then the whole was rebuilt as a… Continue Reading

If I Could Turn Back Time

WARNING: This is a long and winding post. You might wish to read it when you have some time. And some wine handy.     The poor carriage house. The poor dear. It sits, patiently, while Ross does battle with the Big House. And each year the carriage house…erodes just a tiny bit.   SPRING… Continue Reading

Revisiting…the Carriage House

After purchasing the Cross House and its carriage house in 2014, both structures received work. With the latter, it mostly involved tearing out obviously non-original alterations. At the time, I was only dimly aware of who architect Charles Squires was, and had been told that he did not design the carriage house. Indeed, I had… Continue Reading

Inching Along

        This corner has seemed endless due to the massive amount of work of, basically, wholly rebuilding it. At first, I simply thought it needed some missing shingles replaced! I should not however have been surprised. Everything under this second-floor level was 100% rebuilt in 2014, and I mean everything: all the… Continue Reading

Ross Is Gonna Do WHAT?

In 2017, I painted the porch ceiling of the 1894 Cross House. And the color choice was…unexpected.       And this is how things have been since. But…but…Ross wasn’t entirely satisfied. And, as y’all know by now, that can lead to, ah, changes. I loved how unexpected the color was. It was a shock… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet the Bo Mystery Light?

I have good news. And more good news! This post offers a two for one! You get to finally meet the Bo mystery light! You get to see — drum roll, please — the painted-at-last stairhall niche! Yes! Can you even believe it!   Last year I began the restoration of the stairhall niche. This… Continue Reading

Kenny…Inches Along

    Several readers were not happy, thinking that the original finish would never have been so, ah, blond. So, I did a post about the myth that All Old Houses Had Dark Trim. It’s  good post; you might enjoy reading it.               Kenny and I discussed how strange… Continue Reading

Inching Along. SQUEE!

    I painted the walls a greenish taupe, which is close to what the kitchen seems to have been painted originally. The frieze is a lighter color. Between the two, I will reinstate the lost picture rail. The colors are meant to be temporary, which means that I did not obsess over them! If… Continue Reading

Inching Along

    So, by next week I should have the wall painted (a kinda greenish taupe), have the gold picture rail installed in the original location (about 20-inches below the ceiling) and the frieze painted (pale taupe). The trim will all go back. I am debating if I should paint it (it was painted originally… Continue Reading

Antiques Galore!

The other day I posted about a settee which David brought to my attention. The settee was period-correct for the 1894 Cross House, and budget-correct (meaning not too fancy/simple for the Cross House). The settee was also close by, inexpensive (because the seller knew it would need to be reupholstered), and my friend Carl picked… Continue Reading

My Second Antique!

This is my sixth year of owning the Cross House. In all that time I have come across one period-correct, and budget-correct antique for the Cross House:     It’s easy finding fabulous antiques. It’s not easy finding antiques which are really right for the house, visually. People who own old houses often fill them… Continue Reading

Undoing the Madness in the Butler’s Pantry

    At first, I never gave the cabinet any thought. Then, I wondered: WHY are there ugly plywood doors at the top?         Thanks to Dr. Doug, the two missing drawers are back! The missing serving counter is back! (It looks bent in the image. It’s not.) The glass is back… Continue Reading

Inching Along. Slowly.

    And that little area took much of the afternoon. That it happened at all was because the weather suddenly jumped to fifty. Whoee!!!!!!!! That little area took so much time because it involved a lot of odd angled shingles, and each had to be measured and fitted into place. Often, they didn’t fit… Continue Reading

Inching Along. Unhappily.

  Remember the butler’s pantry? I am un-remuddling my own remuddling from a few years ago, and have been working on infilling the wall I knocked a door into. So, why the argh?       In all my decades of working on old house this has never happened before. At first, I removed the… Continue Reading

Inching Along. Happily.

    Normally I don’t remove trim but this trim is so caked with later layers of paint it really needs to come off to do the job right. In addition, each window has sagged down, in a staggered pattern to the left. This means that instead of all the top trim being level, each… Continue Reading

Inching Along

  It fascinates me to think of the person who applied the glue 69-years ago, having no idea that all their work would be chipped off in 2019, an age of computers, smart phones, blogs, marriage equality, and a reality TV star in the Oval Office.     Continue Reading

A Petite Discovery

Last May, I did two posts (here and here) about the discovery that the Cross House originally had a call system, involving “doorbells” in every room, and an attendant annunciator in the kitchen. It was all rather breathless, and all thanks to Blair!         So, the dining room had TWO call bells!… Continue Reading

Inching Along in a Faux Bois Kinda Way

  I don’t have time right now to restore the entire upper stair hall, but wouldn’t it be ever so delightful to, at least, have this one wall looking’ good? As part of the process? The wood trim around windows. The problem? Unlike almost all the trim in the house, the trim around the triple-windows… Continue Reading

A Window for Shingling

        While the siding on the west, north, and east side of the house proved, mostly, in good original condition, this cannot be said of the siding on the south side. ALL of it will be removed and most of it replaced. This is a testament to the fact that the sun… Continue Reading

Revealing the Past

Recently, Becky has been doing a lot of research into the Cross House, and has been delighting me with emails rich with information. Becky, and her husband, John, were my guest for dinner a few weeks ago. One such story involves Issac Lambert, who purchased the house in either December 1906, or January 1907. Lambert… Continue Reading

Cody Scores! AGAIN!

        Cody dreams about being able to own the house, someday. I told him that I first saw the Cross House in 1999 and fell passionately in love. But, buying it was not a remote possibility. I thought: That will never happen. Then in 2014 I purchased the house. Life is strange.… Continue Reading

Cody SCORES!!!!!!!!

So, y’all know that Cody has found several gas/electric sconces for the Cross House. I “met” Cody in 2014 when he began leaving comments about an incredible house on Old House Dreams. Here. Prepare to gasp. At the time, Cody was a teenager. He lived near the incredible house and was highly protective of it.… Continue Reading

More Windows!

      I just cannot believe it. There are, I am pretty sure, 5,984 windows at the Cross House. And only TWO more need restoring!!!!!!!! When I purchased the house in 2014, it seemed an impossible task. Soooooooooo many windows needing soooooooooo much work. I would get queasy in taking it all in. But,… Continue Reading

Making Curvy

  It is not hard. I take three at a time and cut the curve with a jigsaw. Then I smooth them with a disk sander. I have to buy a bundle of shingles and then pull out all the shingles that are 5-inches or more wide. The narrower shingles get used for shims. I… Continue Reading

Cody Sconce. ARGH!!!!!!!!

A few weeks ago, Cody brought to my attention a single gas/electric sconce on eBay. At first, I was not interested as I need matching pairs. But…then I realized that there are a few locations in the house which had single sconces. Oh. Oh! Specifically, the servant’s hall, second floor. So, I looked at the… Continue Reading

Cody Sconces. SQUEE!!!!!!!!

A while back, Cody came across a RARE pair of 1890s gas/electric swivel sconces. He brought them to my attention, and I purchased the pair. After some time, I was able to hang them in the parlor. But even though I laboriously ran new wires through the walls to the sconces, I never finished the… Continue Reading

Bitching About Stripping

So, I glopped stripper all over another door to the butler’s pantry. And nothing happened. I pushed the brush against the glop. And nothing happened. I waited some more. Then pushed the brush against the glop. And nothing happened. I stared at the door, uncomprehending. Huh? Rather than all the paint bubbling, the door just looked,… Continue Reading

A Complicated Affair

  Wow. Those are really complicated rooflines! Scary! I stare at this image and think: Is all this really mine? I am really responsible for all this? And how the hell did that happen?     Continue Reading

My First Dinner!

Last Saturday, I had my first formal dinner at the Cross House. Yes, I had a dinner last fall for the board of the Strong City Preservation Alliance, but I only set the table and everybody brought food. But on Saturday, it was all very grand.   My guess arrived at six, and we sat… Continue Reading

The Butler’s Pantry

  The two TALL doors had been lowered at some point, and the glass replaced with plywood. Yikes! I raised them to their original height, and installed new glass. You can also see one refinished drawer. Dr. Doug is at work making two new drawers to replace the long missing drawers ABOVE the lower four… Continue Reading

The Dining Room

        It now seems evident that the dining room will, more than any room in the house, celebrate a faux bois finish. For, none of the other rooms have, to date, revealed such dramatic faux graining. Thus, after much fretting about all the wood in the dining room, I am now hopeful… Continue Reading

Louis. The Tease.

                                                They did find the window, and I can have it! But…they are holding it ransom…until I visit…to pick it up in person! I have been wanting to visit for months and… Continue Reading

The Dining Room. And Why I Love Kymberly.

As y’all know, I have been struggling with the woodwork in the dining room. In the whole house — save the dining room — the old, dark, depressing shellac is easily removed via denatured alcohol. The results?       It’s all been quite vexing! I have tried all manner of noxious liquids to remove… Continue Reading

The Butler’s Pantry: A Mystery UPDATE

  Golly. Who knew that, when I wrote about a mystery regarding one cabinet in the butler’s pantry of the 1894 Cross House, y’all would become so…excited. Theories abounded! Arguments were made! Fist fights broke out! Doors were slammed! OK. Perhaps I exaggerate. But, after much discussion, the mystery is no more resolved today than… Continue Reading

The Butler’s Pantry: Lighted!

  The pendant is a bit later than the 1894 Cross House, I think, but it is gas/electric (as the house had originally), and is also of a type which might have been in the pantry originally: simple. The shades are, I think, a bit too fancy, and I am on the search for something… Continue Reading

Doing Battle with the Dining Room. Still.

A little over a year ago I did a post about the difficulty of restoring the trim in the dining room. In all the other rooms of the house the many layers of shellac come off easily via denatured alcohol, revealing the original faux wood finishes. But not in the dining room. The trim in… Continue Reading

The Butler’s Pantry: A Deepening Mystery

                      Everything about the “safe” is a mystery: Why the different wood? Why are its doors a different style? Why does it have fixed shelves? Why the TALL space? Why does it not align with the doors above? I had surmised that the different style… Continue Reading

The Butler’s Pantry. A MYSTERY!

      This baffles me. WHY are the lower doors a different wood? And why…     Huh? I never noticed this before, either. The two lower doors have a large metal strap that goes across them, attaching to the lock hanging to the left. See? This indicates that the lower cabinet was intended,… Continue Reading

Resurrecting the Butler’s Pantry

So, my last post was about repairing my karma. I am going to reverse a change I made two years ago, a change which entailed removing a portion of the original butler’s pantry along its west wall. The bits which were removed were stored with the idea that a later owner could reverse my decision,… Continue Reading

NOT Burning in Preservation Hell

About two years ago I did a post about burning in preservation hell. This is what happens to people who screw up old houses. You might want to read the post again, here. In the post, I outed myself as having earned points to Preservation Hell by removing a portion of the original butler’s pantry… Continue Reading

A Breathless Cat Fence Update! YIKES!

I’m all excited. And a little freaked out. For, the first part of the famous Cat Fence has been installed! ZOUNDS!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!!!! EGAD!!!!!!!! SQUEE!!!!!!!! So why, you might be asking, am I a little freaked out? Because the finished look is not, ahh, quite what I anticipated.   I ordered a bronze-like metal. What arrived… Continue Reading

2018. The Year-End Update. THE ROSS.

Each year, I do a HOUSE update and a ROSS update. While the HOUSE update is highly popular, the ROSS update attracts three times the views. Which is a strong indicator that y’all are interested in the man behind the blog. This is also an indicator that readers are also interested in…ah…my political views as… Continue Reading

A Breathless Cat Fence Update! YEAR-END UPDATE!

Since my last update, donations to Fence The Cats have continued to come in! Rachel: Greetings from the SF Bay area! As a fellow animal rescuer (of foster dogs) I applaud your efforts with the acts. I’m also a lover of old homes but will never actually own one (or a new home, for that matter)… Continue Reading


    The couple are staying the night at the Gufler Mansion in Emporia, and dining tonight at my suggestion, Radius. So, everybody, a big hug for Christina and Dusty!     Continue Reading

An Extraordinary Discovery!

Today, I received an email. The email made me…gasp! Gasp!       The email today was from Staci. Staci and her husband, Rick, own Coffelt Signs in Emporia. Recently, Coffelt recreated the neon sign to the 1900 Theater in Strong City, something I have been dreaming about for two decades. Well, in her email,… Continue Reading

What IS This?

      The chute has three metal bars preventing any larger object from falling into the chute. The petite door was held by two incredibly powerful spring hinges. One could not just open the door and leave it, as it would instantly snap shut. No, one had to bend down, open the door, HOLD… Continue Reading

Repairing Plaster Walls

    I had planned on simply filling all the smaller holes with sheetrock, and then sheetrocking over the entire ceiling. This is what I have done for decades. But…but…this is the first old house I have ever restored which had radiators. And what, you might ask, do radiators have to to with plaster? Why,… Continue Reading

The Eventual Sewing Room

The other day I did a post about the Sewing Room at the Cross House and mentioned that, when it was finished, I would rent it to a roommate. Several readers did not quite understand. Was I planning to add a kitchen to the room? Would there be a bathroom? So, I did a quick… Continue Reading

Murphy Beds! Everywhere!

    In 1950, the younger Scott Mouse transformed the Cross House into the Palace Motel. The Murphy beds were removed although their wood cabinets remained, turn into closets. Two such closets remained when I purchased the house: the Long bedroom, and a narrow such cabinet in the hall (which appeared to have been placed in… Continue Reading

Excitement! Involving a Murphy Bed!

Today, Justin and I began to rewire the Sewing Room. I drew on the north wall where I wanted switches and sconces to go over the bed. Then Justin said: “Wasn’t there a Murphy bed on this wall once? Isn’t that stored on the third floor? If so, why not put it back?” Egads! What… Continue Reading

Activating Hollywood Regency

  There were two problems however: There was no electricity TO the sconces. The sconces clashed with the almost-period-correct gas/electric chandelier. Right away, I decided to get rid of the chandelier. It was more 1904 than 1894 (oh, the horror) and was, importantly, too fancy for the room which would have originally had a much… Continue Reading

Glittering Jewels

      No image captures the best aspect of the many stained-glass windows: They sparkle and glitter as you pass by. The effect is magical. Just utterly magical. Recently, somebody I know stopped me in the post office. She told me that, when she is in Emporia after dark, she goes out of her… Continue Reading

What We Do For Love

Yesterday, it was 60 degrees. Today, there was a blizzard. So what did Ross do? He jumped in his car and drove through a blizzard so he could check that the Cross House was OK. Sigh.   I promised myself that if the roads were really bad I would turn around. And after just a… Continue Reading

The Brutalized South Facade

The weather has warmed up! So, I have resumed my focus on the south facade of the Cross House. And boy, is it beat. I have now worked on the west facade, north, and east. And most of what was there in 1894 is still there today. Very few shingles or siding needed replacing, and… Continue Reading

A Breathless Cat Fence Update! PART IV

Since my last update a little over two weeks ago, donations to Fence The Cats have continued to come in! This all began when I did a post detailing the reasons why, after five years, I still cannot move into the Cross House. Most of these issues have been resolved during the last five years, but the… Continue Reading

Punching Holes in Plaster. Fixing Holes in Plaster.

“Oh! That house needs to be gutted to the studs!” I hear this all the time. I read this all the time. And I cringe every time. Buying an old house and tearing out all the plaster walls and ceilings is just, well, stupid. Houses with plaster: Sound better. Retain heat as plaster absorbs heat.… Continue Reading

Lighting like it’s 1894!

      I purchased the sconces a few months ago, after they were brought to my attention by Bo Sullivan. The round bedroom is now the second room in the house where I have installed gas/electric sconces in their original location. Which makes me very happy! Thanks, Bo!!!!!!!!     Continue Reading

It’s Alive! It’s Alive!

Click on video:   To me, when a room in an old house is rewired, and all the wiring is done, there is a special moment JUST before the electricity is turned on, a moment filled with anticipation…and anxiety. Will everything work? Then — drum roll, please — the switch is flipped, and the overhead… Continue Reading

Round. Resumed.

Justin called me yesterday. “Do you have any indoor work? I am freezing at the outside job I am working on.” I replied: “Why, yes, Yes I do.” And so begins today’s tale…   Last winter I began working on the FABULOUS round bedroom. This will be my office. And I am living for the… Continue Reading

Mmmmmmmmmmm, warm.

Last January, I finally, finally, got the radiator system of the Cross House up and running. Long-time readers will recall some, ahh, mishaps during the process but after some ado the miles of pipes filled with hot water, the many radiators filled up, and slowly the huge house responded and….warmth was my reward. It was… Continue Reading

The White House

    Because all roads and sidewalks were warmer than the snow. they remained clear of snow. But everything else looked like it had been covered by blown-on cotton. It was beautiful.       Continue Reading

When Superman Died

When I was, say, twenty, I had a built-in assumption: I was Superman. This was never a conscious thought. It was, rather, just somehow understood. I felt I could do anything. I could pick up heavy loads. I could climb ladders all day with impunity. I could work long, hard hours to no ill effect.… Continue Reading

A Breathless Cat Fence Update! PART III

Since my last update a week ago, donations to Fence The Cats have continued to come in! This all began when I did a post detailing the reasons why, after five years, I still cannot move into the Cross House. Most of these issues have been resolved during the last five years, but the last issue is… Continue Reading

The Diagonal Drama

It’s a good thing y’all weren’t with me at the Cross House today. For, my language would have scandalized you. Scandalized! I cursed and cursed the whole afternoon. In short, Ross was not happy. And it’s my own fault.   Several decades ago I learned an invaluable lesson: If you are doing anything, be it… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Cat Fence? PART III

      Several readers are worried that the cats will be able to climb the metal fence by using the ribs as stairs. This will not be possible, as decades of experience with metal fences has taught me. I am planning to place an order this week for the metal! Squee!!!!!!!!     Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Cat Fence? PART II

The other day I introduced what the famous cat fence would look like. Some people liked my color choice (charcoal) and some didn’t. But nobody quite seemed to understand what the fence would look like upon completion. I mentioned that it would be very simple, kinda like a Richard Serra sculpture.        … Continue Reading

The Shingle Drama

      With the corner now rebuilt, it was time to focus on getting new cedar shingles. I had hoped to re-use about 50% of the old shingles but no longer think this is an option, at least for this portion of the exterior. For days and days I tried to find a supplier… Continue Reading

Do You Want to be on the Right Side of History?

WARNING: This is a political post.     The above image is famous. It depicts a moment in time when nine African-American students, escorted by the National Guard, were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The nine students were surrounded by an angry mob of white people who did not want to share… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Cat Fence?

A year ago I did a post about creating outdoor “rooms”. Because the yard of the Cross House is minuscule, and because the house abuts a four-lane highway, creating a series of enclosed “rooms” is a really good way of mitigating both these issues. I learned long ago that if one can see an entire… Continue Reading

South. Upper Corner. Eek.

    What is so weird is that it is obvious that the very shingles I removed had been removed not that long ago, and that the inside corner was filled with putty and stuff. And somebody must have removed the original crumbling, rotted 2x6s…but they did not replace them, and then nailed back on… Continue Reading

A Breathless Cat Fence Update! PART II

Six days ago, I did my first Cat Fence Update. And that post was a response to this post, which detailed the reasons why, after five years, I still cannot move into the Cross House. Most of these issues have been resolved during the last five years, but the last issue is proving intractable: The cat… Continue Reading

And…..the Belated East Facade

  Yesterday, I did a long post showing the restored west and north facades, and the terrifying south facade. Then Mary asked: “But where is the east facade?” I can deny Mary nothing, so today I added before/after images of the incomplete east facade. You can view the updated post here.     Continue Reading

Wanna Meet the South Facade?

Before I formally introduce the unrestored south facade of the Cross House, I thought you might enjoy a quick revisit of the restored west and north facades, and the partially restored east facade.                 Now, are you sitting down? Do you have a glass of wine on hand?… Continue Reading

The South Commences!

    Not long ago, new shingles had been installed in just this area. But over the rotted sheathing! This just freaks me out! FREAKS ME OUT! The damage was caused by a leaking built-in gutter above, and even though new shingles had been installed a while back, the cause of the damage and not… Continue Reading

A Breathless Cat Fence Update!

Mary Carol had asked: “When are you moving in?” To answer this question, I did a post. I had no idea that in answering her question something unexpected and wonderful would happen. But something unexpected and wonderful did happen. And is happening. In the post, I detailed the numerous reasons why I still cannot move into… Continue Reading

When I Became, Officially, A Crazy Cat Person

In 1975, when I was eighteen and living in my first apartment, a cat snuck in. And decided to stay. I soon learned why. She was pregnant and gave birth to two kittens shortly thereafter in my closet. My new brood: Mama Little Girl Little Boy Mama was a fabulous cat, and so were her… Continue Reading

The Thin Line

            I still have some touch-ups, and a couple of trim pieces to install, but I can soon relocate the scaffolding to —  drum roll, please — THE SOUTH FACADE!       Continue Reading

A Moving Question

Today, Mary Carol asked: “When are you moving in?” It’s a good question. It’s a question I cannot answer though. From day one the following issues have precluded my moving in:   STOP THE FRIGGIN’ AIR When I purchased the house in 2014 wind freely blew through it via cracks and through all the windows… Continue Reading

The Thin Line

    This week the Thin Line should be completed and the scaffolding will be moved to (drum roll, please) the SOUTH FACADE!     Continue Reading

A Faded Past

In the early 1970s, Phyllis and Louis lived in the Cross House. They were young and way cool, baby. I did a post on them, showing their expansive third-floor apartment Phyllis and Louis also graciously forwarded this evocative image looking down into the first-floor stair-hall.       Continue Reading

The Mysterious Library

I have only ever offered glimpses of the Cross House library. The room was a gutted shell when I purchased the house. And it was the first room I mostly finished because I needed to get all my books out of storage and into the house, STAT. So, while the room was finished, it was… Continue Reading

More Windows!

          In 2014, the idea of restoring the 2,576 windows in the house (OK, maybe not that many) seemed an impossible task. Yet,  somehow, there are now only five clear-glass windows which need restoring. Only five! And these will be done by the end of the year. Zounds! What has enabled… Continue Reading

FURY at the Cross House

Today, when I was a block away from the Cross House, I looked at the house…and my brain could not process what I was seeing. WHAT? As my car continued, things came into focus. Standing on my front stone steps was a young woman in a huge pink wedding dress. Standing next to her was… Continue Reading

Dinner Update

    The table was set for eight but I had no idea of how many would show up for the board meeting. When seven arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had worried, quite a bit, that I had overdone things, and that some board members would find it all too froufrou. Yet,… Continue Reading

A Bit of Elegance Amidst Ruins

    The table will look pretty for less than five minutes as people bring in their own containers of food, cans of beer, and papers and phones and iPads. But…for a brief moment there is elegance amidst the ruins and I think the contrast is delicious.     Continue Reading

Treasures from Megan

A while back I did a post about needing a number of corner blocks for the Cross House windows and doors trim. Amazingly, Megan wrote in and said she had nine such blocks. Wow. Then this week a box arrived. Inside? The nine magical blocks!     Thanks, Megan! BIG hug!!!!!!!!     Continue Reading

Hunting for Crystal

In the 1980s, I lived in New York City and had a thriving architectural design practice. Donald Trump was one of my clients (and I may one day reveal my stories). I lived in a very large duplex apartment in Little Italy. I enjoyed having people and clients over for dinner, so had fabulous china… Continue Reading

A Happy China Cabinet

  I then stood back and wondered: when was the last time fine china was placed inside this cabinet made for fine china? The cabinet seemed, I dunno, happy! And I experienced an odd thrill, too. It was satisfying returning this beautiful cabinet to its intended use. I stood back about six feet…and just smiled… Continue Reading

The Never-Ending Window…Has Ended

  When i purchased the house in 2014, that sheet of glass was in place. But where was the original wood sash? It later turned up. In pieces. The bottom edge had severe rot, and the lower rail had fallen away. Why this damage had occurred I could not explain as the adjacent window sashes… Continue Reading

Hunting for China

On October 1, the board of the 1900 theater is having their meeting at the Cross House, and dinner will be served. Yikes. Last November, I had my first (and only) dinner in the house, my Day-After-Thanksgiving gala. We used paper plates and plastic cup and plastic forks. And I was surprised at how, ah, grim… Continue Reading


10             9             8             7             6             5                                      … Continue Reading

Petite & Skinny

  The sashes are unlike any in the house. They are not large, quite thin, and high up (higher than my head while inside the bathroom). Normally, I install restored sashes after the surrounding area is painted and restored, so it’s odd seeing these gorgeous windows surrounded by less-than-perfect trim and walls. The sashes are… Continue Reading

Night Magic

As I continue getting stained-glass windows restored, I continue adding more rooms to the “lighted at night” program. The Cross House has an amazing 43 stained-glass windows and while I get to enjoy them during the day, because the sun makes them come alive, people walking or driving by do not get the same delight.… Continue Reading

Irving is Back!!!!!!!!

Last year, I discovered that a bat was tucked into an almost hidden recess above one of the curved dining room windows. This prevented me from painting in the immediate area. Then the bat, quite graciously, moved over to the other curved window, allowing me to finish the first curved window. This year, I have… Continue Reading

Tipping my Hat to 1894 Carpenters

The previous owner of the Cross House, Bob Rodak, gutted the four-story servant’s stair. He remove all the door and window trim, labeled each piece (thank you, Bob), and set all that in the Aladdin’s Cave. Last year, when I was able to at last empty the cave, I sat all these many bundles back… Continue Reading

A Decision has been Made!

  I would prefer finishing the whole of the east facade. But two factors have forced a switch to the south: The restoration of the south facade is a large part of the 2017 Heritage Grant work. So, this works needs to begin, STAT. Because the south facade faces, well, south, this is SO not… Continue Reading

The Window from Hell. REBORN!!!!!!!!

  Task #1 was to relocate the three AC condensers away from the house (they had been placed in front of the window). Task #2 was to remove all the AC lines running through the window and bury them in the ground. These two tasks cost a shocking amount of money but what choice did… Continue Reading

Being Attacked by Fussy

Today it was raining. Again. This precluded any work outside. So, what to do? What to do? I wandered around the house while listing to podcasts. Then I wiped off the pads on the dining room table. Much better! I wandered all the way upstairs and decided to vacuum the third floor, which is a… Continue Reading

A Coverup

As each room in the Cross House receives it restored stained-glass transom windows, I delight in making sure the room is lighted at night so the windows can be enjoyed by anybody driving or walking by. One day, an elderly woman stopped by to say that, every time her granddaughter visits, she demands to be… Continue Reading

The Joy of Tidy

Today, I arrived at the Cross House… …and had no idea of what to do. Well, this never happens. Each day, I arrive with plans for X, but now that I have finished the NE corner I was not sure of what to do next. The scaffolding is set up to do one edge of… Continue Reading

The Third-Floor Windows Are Done!

          I have fragments of one of the lost south windows and I go back/forth about what to do. Should I recreate the lost triple set? By doing so, I would lose the door and the Juliet balcony, which are nice features. And I am loathe to lose these features. My… Continue Reading

The Window From HELL

    Last year, I had the three AC condensers relocated away from the house, and the AC lines removed from the window and buried in the ground. Ahhh, much better. Then I tried to take off the plywood. And gave up. It was screwed and glued so over-the-top that it could have survived a… Continue Reading

A Sill Drama

So……I sat on the ground to begin painting the basement window in the NE corner. The window sash and trim were restored and primed white in 2014 by one of the guys working on the house. Thus, all I needed to do was paint on pretty colors. This assumption quickly proved….foolish. As I went over… Continue Reading


  OK. Maybe that is not exactly how the tour transpired, but Shelley really has read every blog post and it was great fun touring the house with an über fan.     Continue Reading

The Art of Deception

  Of course, the NE corner is not done. Not quite. Not yet. But it will be soon! Very soon! In the above image though, I hope you will appreciate that the restored long bedroom east window sashes are back in place! See the before:       Continue Reading

Long-Delayed Gratification

About ten years ago I purchased a pair of candle sconces online. They looked to be from the 1950s, and had a Hollywood-Regency quality. Mmmmmmmm. The sconces arrived. I liked them! But could not find a place for them, so they were put in a box. Years passed, and the sconces stayed in their box,… Continue Reading


Quietly, all the while I work on the NE corner or the stairhall niche, for example, there is almost a window sash in the basement workroom being restored. And by this baby step method, about 80% of the windows in the house have now been restored. Which amazes me, as when I purchased the house… Continue Reading

a FRUSTRATING adventure

  NOTE: This post contains bad words!   Today, when I arrived at the Cross House, the sun was shining, it was in the eighties, and I mowed some of the lawn. Then I went inside, sat in the dining room, drank some water, and read the latest news on my iPhone while sitting in… Continue Reading

The NE Corner. NAKED!

          The first-floor round window is restored. Next week, I am picking up the second-floor round window which has has new stained-glass inserted. The window will then be glazed, then painted. This will take a few weeks. The second-floor big window frame needs painting, and then I can install the restored… Continue Reading

The NE Corner

  I have previously mentioned that working on the Cross House would so not be possible without my #1 indispensable tool: audible books. Currently, I am listening to a podcast! It is a great podcast about Hollywood with well over a hundred episodes! If you love old movies and glamorous movie stars from the 1920s… Continue Reading

Revisiting the Niche

I have not posted an update on the stairhall niche in a while as I have been focused on painting the NE corner. The walls are primed and ready to be painted. The Stencil Library in the UK has agreed to make stencil versions of the original wallpaper, frieze, and ceiling paper. But I have… Continue Reading

The NE Corner.

  At the strong recommendation of several readers, I have been listening to A Gentleman in Moscow for the last week while working on the Cross House. The book is very long, which I like. It is well written and full of interesting characters but I had trouble connecting with the book, which I had anticipated… Continue Reading

Finding Correct Period-Correct Lighting

When I purchased the Cross House I knew that it originally had gas ceiling fixtures. Later, I discovered that it actually had gas/electric fixtures, and the house may have been the first in Emporia wired for electricity. Later, I discovered that the house also had gas/electric sconces throughout. So, this meant that the gas fixtures… Continue Reading

The NE Corner. Three Days.

          Today, save some touch-ups, I finished the upper upper NE corner. And today, and during the last two afternoons working on the upper upper NE corner, I experienced a Zen-like calm about the work. Arriving at the house each day, I clambered out onto the scaffolding, got to work, but… Continue Reading

The NE Corner. And the Value of a Good Book.

    I could not do anywhere near as much work on the house as I do without Audible books. While I sand or scrape or hammer or screw or paint I am almost always listening to a good book. This makes time fly, and most enjoyably. Today, I listened, again, to Amy Snow, which… Continue Reading

No. No. No, no, NO!

  Then Stewart wrote in, wondering how I was able to contain myself in NOT painting the wall to the right. Well, the impulse to do exactly that did almost overtake me. Then I summoned my mantra: No. No. No, no, NO! With all restoration projects, it is easy to get sidetracked. Recently, I had my… Continue Reading

The NE Corner. The 3/4 Mark!

  I also did all the prep work on the bottom 1/4, including replacing some shingles. Tomorrow, i will paint the final 1/4!!!!!!!! All the siding on the first floor is new, installed last year, so it will be easy and fast finishing the first floor. Then the scaffolding will be move to the inside… Continue Reading

The NE Corner. In the Oven.

Last week, there was a delicious respite in the weather: 72 degrees for several days. Bliss. This week though, the Gods are obviously quite angry for it hit 100 degrees this afternoon. And what did Ross do today? Why, he snuggle into the hot-as-Hell Tyvek suit to disk-sand the NE corner! And why did Ross… Continue Reading

The NE Corner. A Cosmic Correction.

    While I was unable to un-dent the trim, I was able to create a sheet metal cover for it and glue it on. Better! These micro-repairs thrill me. Even though most (or all) are not readily observable, they nonetheless create a more crispy look for the house which I think IS observable. In… Continue Reading

THE RETURN: Sewing Room Stained-Glass!

Recently, I did a blog post about the restoration of the stained-glass transom windows in the sewing room. While the stained-glass panels were restored, their wood sashes also needed to be restored. This meant removing the many layers of old shellac on the inside, and sanding the outside down to bare wood. Then, the stained-glass panels… Continue Reading

Wanna Time Travel? Part 1

  In the early 1970s, Phyllis and Louis lived in the Cross House, first in the Octagon Bedroom, and then later the entire third floor. Their landlord was Frank and Esther Toms. During the last few days, Phyllis has been sending me images of their time as cool young things in the Cross House, and I… Continue Reading


  This past Thursday, Jim and Cindy, and Phyllis and Louis, came by for an extended tour of the Cross House. Phyllis and Louis were last in the house in the 1970s, when they first rented the Octagon Bedroom, and then the entire top floor. For $60 a month! Furnished! Phyllis and Louis were in… Continue Reading

An Extraordinary Possibility

When I was a child in the 1960s, my parent’s had a fiberglass sailboat and I spent countless hours and years aboard her. But I never loved her. She was plastic and smelled funny. And, she was…small. Very occasionally we would happen upon a big old wooden yacht. These fascinated me. In the pages of… Continue Reading

More Stained-Glass Windows. DONE!

The second-floor sewing room at the Cross House has, like almost all the rooms, stained-glass transom windows. There are 42 such windows in the house, which is remarkable. Astonishing, really. When I first purchased the house I thought all the windows were in situ but then realized that there had originally been 43 stained-glass windows. One… Continue Reading

More Windows. DONE!

      All the parlor clear-glass windows will be done soon! And the sewing room clear-windows are in the shop for restoration! At this point, about 80% of the 43 stained-glass windows are restored, and about 60% of the clear-glass windows are restored. At the end of 2018, or soon into 2019, all the… Continue Reading

Rethinking Mr. Darcy

WARNING: This is a long, intense post. Wine might be required.   A GOOD PLAN? In March, I did a post about having to give up on Mr. Darcy, meaning that I had come to the conclusion that my romantic ideals for the Cross House were not realistic. In short, Jane Austin was not coming… Continue Reading

Small Victories

Over a two-year period I made a concentrated effort to dismantle the Aladdin’s Cave in the basement, a room full of bits & pieces removed from the house over many decades. This effort proved successful and all over the house (interior and exterior) long “lost” bits were re-installed. But two inside window stops — just… Continue Reading

A Continuing Niche

          I am working with the Stencil Library in England to create a stencil version of the original frieze and ceiling pattern. A luscious period-correct gilded picture rail, a gift from Blair, will be installed about 22-inches below the ceiling to recreate the lost original rail. In the meantime, I plan… Continue Reading

Tracing the Past

The stairhall niche will be primed this week! Then I plan to create a facsimile of the original frieze and ceiling paper via stencils. As there is almost no wall surface below the picture rail (it’s all doors and windows and trim trim trim), recreating the original wall paper pattern is not an issue (at… Continue Reading

The Kitchen Windows. DONE!

I am very pleased to announce that ALL the windows in the kitchen are restored! The wood sashes have lasted for 123-years and there is no reason why they cannot last another century. Contrast this with new vinyl windows, which have a lifespan of 15-years. Even new wood windows will not last as long because… Continue Reading

a TERRIFYING adventure.

  Damn. I stared at this unexpected and unwanted waterfall flowing down in front of the two arched windows of the tower, and the large window below. It was obvious that the downspout, around the corner to the right, was blocked. But how to get to it? How? How? A sensible person would have waited… Continue Reading

Annunciator! PART II.

This morning, I did a post about the dramatic discovery, by Blair, that the Cross House originally had a call system and annunciator. This means that most of the rooms in the house would have had a doorbell-like thingy. When pressed, this would have alerted a servant in the kitchen via an annunciator.    … Continue Reading

A Major Discovery Involving an Annunciator!

Yesterday, Blair came to the Cross House for a tour, as detailed in my previous post. Blair and his wife, Beth, own a big house built in 1900, so they have plenty of experience with old houses. As we walked through the many rooms, we stepped into the kitchen which is, like most of the… Continue Reading

A Visitor…Bearing Gifts!

            I briefly met Beth and Blair last summer at the house, but they did not have time for a tour. But Blair said he could not leave the area without a tour! Sadly, Beth could not join us as she is already working at her new job in Ohio.… Continue Reading

The NE Corner…IS SCALED!

  It’s fun working with Justin. He has a feature which is rare in a contractor but hugely appreciated by me: Almost nothing fazes him. Over the years I have worked with many contractors and plumbers and electricians, etc., and a common dynamic is an unwillingness to take on…the unexpected. But with Justin? Kinda no… Continue Reading

2001 meets…1894

  In the classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, a huge and mysterious black monolith appears at…         And what, you may be asking, does this have to do with the Cross House? Well, today, a mysterious brown monolith appeared… (scroll way down)                    … Continue Reading

A Continuing Niche…as Fabergé Egg?

  But then what? The niche is visually and spatially part of the foyer and 2-story stairhall. And these are years from being done. So, maybe just priming the niche will be OK? But…but…I am hankering to finish off the niche like a Fabergé egg, something precious and exquisite no matter what is adjacent. And because… Continue Reading


In my previous post I stated my plans post-niche. Next will be finishing the NE corner! Then I was thinking of finishing the east facade.  A lot of the first-floor work is done. And the east facade lacks a lot of the time-consuming detail evident on the other three facades. Significantly, the east facade is… Continue Reading


        I am kinda 51% leaning to doing the east facade after the NE corner is done. The east facade is highly visible when anybody is driving west along Highway 50, which abuts the north facade of the house. So, by finishing the east facade, the house would look pretty fabulous to… Continue Reading

Windex Pleasures

  I love clean windows. For, it’s an easy task offering instant rewards. From inside the house, everything just looks better. From outside, the house looks so much better, too; so loved. When one walks or drives by, the windows sparkle. After buying the Cross House in 2014, the first thing I did was begin… Continue Reading

A Continuing Niche. And a Question Answered.

  A big question I have pondered for some time was: Did the niche have a picture rail? It seemed unlikely. For, there is zero place for a picture in the niche. It’s all windows and doors and a giant arched opening. Still, I had to be sure. So…     Ah yes, the tell-tale… Continue Reading

A Crazy Crazy Crazy Idea About A Mouse

  Scott Mouse, Sr., purchased the Cross House in 1929, and converted the second-floor into apartments. His son, Scott, Jr., converted the house into the Palace Motel in 1950. These conversions almost certainly saved the house from being demolished as the once prime residential neighborhood had gone commercial. Today, little remains of the Mouse conversions.… Continue Reading

An Inching Along Radiator

  Whoee!!!!!!!! Whoee!!!!!!!! Whoee!!!!!!!! On Monday, I will order the paint for the radiator. While waiting for it to arrive, my focus will be repairing the plaster and finishing the ceiling.       Continue Reading


    In February, I wrote a post about their incredible house, and will soon be making that road trip! Well, you can imagine how much fun we all had yesterday. Insane old house owners sharing stories and laughs and tears!     Continue Reading

An Inching Along Radiator

    I liked the very dark gold, far right column, third from top. I need to also pick a lighter gold to highlight the decorative aspects of the radiator. Thanks, Carrie! The finished result will, I hope, be subtle and elegant. Tomorrow, I plan to finish the stripping! Then onto repairing the plaster walls… Continue Reading

An Inching Along Radiator

  Today, I glopped on the paint stripper and…stepped away for an hour. And when I stepped back? Wow, the work went much faster than it did the other day when I did not step away. So, a reminder: always let the stripper do the work for you. But patience is not something I have… Continue Reading

Faux Poo

  The right side of the faux oak is in pretty good condition. The left side is utterly ruined by water damage from a bathroom above (now removed). The whole house is filled with faux finishes, so it seemed timely to finally hunt down a faux artist to begin the process of restoring all the… Continue Reading

A Continuing Niche. An End In Sight!

      For years, when I would stand before the niche and think about restoring the finish on all the oak, I would feel queasy at the thought of how much work this would entail. But, I finally just jumped in with the thought that a little bit every other day would be survivable.… Continue Reading

A Continuing Niche PLAN

I have been writing abut the niche in the stairhall. As previously noted, the niche is small but, per square inch, packs more architectural wallop than any other space in the house. In but an area about 3-feet deep by 6-feet wide, there are two columns, an arch, two doors, and three arched stained-glass windows.… Continue Reading

A Continuing Niche…Dreaded

      Doing this corner was hard because it requires that I bend a lot, and am forced to squat and sit. And my sixty-one-year-old body protests mightily. It is the kind of work that I would have not given a thought to at, say, forty. But sixty-one? Ouch. After sitting on the floor… Continue Reading

A Continuing Niche

  Several readers have asked about how I do this. NOTE: My method will only work if the old finish is shellac.  I pour denatured alcohol into a bowl. I use a cheap, small brush. Liberally apply to wood. Over and over and over. Rub the brush against the wood. The old shellac will dissolve… Continue Reading

Enjoying the Self-Selected Hunt

In 2014, when I began to paint the exterior of the 1894 Cross House, I had self-selected criteria: I did NOT want a “painted lady” effect. This is a look created by hippies in the 1960s when they took “gloomy” old Victorians and painted them in many many many colors (normally fueled by LSD). The… Continue Reading

The Niche…Revisted

A few months ago I began restoring the stairhall niche. This little space is, per square inch, the most architecturally jammed-packed in the entire house. In an area about 3-feet wide x 5-feet there are two paneled doors with elaborate trim, three arched stained-glass windows with elaborate trim, and two carved oak columns supporting a… Continue Reading

Parlor 4.0

                          As I have previously written, my worry was that, if I did not get the parlor right, then I would get every other room in the house wrong. The parlor was also a steep learning curve: WHAT would work in an 1894… Continue Reading

Fun with Furniture. NOT!

I am no longer having fun with furniture. My two previous posts detailed the criteria I have set for selecting antiques for the 1894 Cross House: That each piece be period-correct to the house. So, early 1890s. That each piece complement the house, in terms of quality and style. This all seems innocuous enough but… Continue Reading

Fun with Furniture II

Yesterday, I did a post about furniture. There will be few antiques in the Cross House when I am done and I wish for such pieces to fulfill two criteria: That each piece be period-correct to the house. So, early 1890s. That each piece complement the house, in terms of quality and style. I rarely… Continue Reading

Fun with Furniture

During the last many months, as my thoughts have turned to creating an Airbnb on the second floor of the Cross House, I started looking at period-correct bedroom suites. I have a thing for matching suites. It develops that there are a LOT of suites out there! Who knew? But what would be best for… Continue Reading

Giving Up On Mr. Darcy

I have a tragic flaw. I expect life to be like a Jane Austin novel. You know, while life can be exceedingly vexing, eventually a Mr. Darcy will come along and then one can spend the rest of their life in gracious splendour at Pemberley. But…but…I turned sixty-one last month and Mr. Darcy has still… Continue Reading

Revived Bits

Last November, I visited the previous owner of the Cross House, Bob Rodak, and we went through his stash of salvaged house materials. I left with some wondrous bits.                         Continue Reading

Speaking. Again.

Matt has been fabulously restoring his 1889 house, and he blogs about it. Recently, he partially re-installed his speaking tube system! I was SO happy for Matt! But then I thought: Why aren’t I doing the same? Indeed. Why not? The speaking tubes in the Cross House are mostly intact. One goes from the first-floor… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet Wacky?

Now that the parlor is, seemingly, done a last, my mind has focused on the library. I have only shown the library in tantalizing bits. This is largely due to the fact that I have been unable to get any good images. The room, it seems, is just really unphotogenic! Nonetheless, the room is very… Continue Reading

Year Five Begins!

I took possession of the Cross House in March, 2014. So, I now begin year #5! In 2014, the house was a huge and somewhat terrifying mystery. I knew nothing about its architect, Charles Squires, and little about Victorian-era architecture. The house clearly had numerous structural issues but I had no idea what had caused… Continue Reading

A Rug Evolution

              Funny, too, how the one antique in the room, the wood chair, looks best on rug #4. I had not expected that. The two are such a contrast yet this seems to highlight the chair somehow. I had expected the marble table, and the white-framed Hillary, to look… Continue Reading

Putting Bits Back

      The trim and wainscoting and window trim are all CAKED with paint. The original finish appears, I think, to be a painted finish, and in a nutmeg-kinda color. I will have this analyzed to confirm the original finish and will recreate the results. I am eager to remove all the caked-on white… Continue Reading

Rugging Out! PART II.

                      As is obvious from my favorites I am NOT looking for a rug which might have been in the room in 1894. From the very beginning, my goal has been to give the parlor a youthful, hip kinda vibe. I want to show that… Continue Reading

Rugging Out!

I am ruggin’ out. Ruggin’ out, man! Today I laid down the THIRD rug in the parlor of the Cross House. Yes, the THIRD. And…I like it better than Rug #1 and Rug #2. But………….I don’t love love love it. Sigh.         In the last image, you will note, too: The redone… Continue Reading

Sealing Up

          All the first-floor windows are now sealed. Only the sewing room windows on the second floor remain unsealed. About half of the third-floor windows are sealed. So, progress!   Continue Reading

Trippin’ Down Memory Lane

    …and she said: “Flowers?” I did not understand, and said: “Sorry?” She looked up/down the huge facade of the house, and repeated: “Flowers?” I still did not understand, and simply looked at her, clearly not understanding. She repeated, again: “Flowers?” It seemed that she was, somehow, upset about the two pots of flowers… Continue Reading

Road Trip!

Recently, a reader, Aaron, wrote in about his excitement in getting his radiator system up and running. A short while later he sent a few images of his house. My eyes bugged out. Yours will, too. Wanna see? Scroll down…                              … Continue Reading

A Small Clue To The Past

          I never noticed this tiny bit of history until today. The 1929 kitchens were swept away in 1950 when they were replaced by a motel room and adjacent bathroom. Today, there is not a trace of the 1929 changes… …save the cut sill.     Continue Reading

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