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.

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

Visitors!!!!!!!!

    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

COUNTDOWN!!!!!!!!!!

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

Visitors!

  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

Sidebars

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

Visitors!

  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

N E X T

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

N E X T

        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

VISITORS!

    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

Sealing Up!

A huge huge huge issue with the Cross House is how, ah, porous it is. Wind freely blows through the windows/doors and exterior cracks and exterior missing bits. Then, inside, any heat is lost because the second floor plaster ceilings are so damaged that heat just vanishes up…and out. Since buying the house four years… Continue Reading

A Safe Landing

          Since November, I have been on a process of, it’s hard to explain, making the Cross House not so pulled apart. Not so damaged. Not quite so ravaged. To this end I have repaired termite-damaged flooring in the pantry. Doors that never quite closed or latched now close and latch… Continue Reading

Evolution

    When I began painting the parlor, my friend Patricia advised that I do the walls in a multi-layered finish using translucent paints. “This will give the walls depth, texture, and richness.” But I blanched at how much work this would require. My goal was maximum effect for minimal effort. So, what I went… Continue Reading

Taming the Snake. And finishing the DAMN Sub-Floor.

I did a previous post about “the Snake”, an absurdly long and convoluted A/C duct to the Round Bedroom. I went to some effort in changing a bend in the Snake to help assure maximum air flow. To this end, I had to take up the just installed subfloor of the north stair landing. Then… Continue Reading

The Dramatic Gesture

  I have to smile at the absurdity. For, the dining room is a wreck. Yet, I have placed in it an incredibly expensive table by Baker, from their Stately Home Collection (purchased for a song on eBay). I then added a huge crystal chandelier (ditto eBay song). And then today I added a rug.… Continue Reading

A Lighter Adventure

When I purchased the Cross House in 2014, all the interior wood was dark. Dark. Depressing dark. In 2015, I accidentally discovered that most of the wood in the house had a faux wood finish, buried under later layers of shellac (shellac darkens over time). By removing the shellac, MUCH lighter surfaces were revealed. Since… Continue Reading

Sealing Up

  Today, I finished sealing all the windows in the Long Bedroom. Whoee!!!!!!!! The temperature of the room immediately increased. Whoee!!!!!!!! And the room immediacy got much quieter. Whoee!!!!!!!! I use peel-away caulk, so the windows could be opened if somebody down the road so desires. Oh, and you cannot see the glorious stained-glass in the above… Continue Reading

A Milestone!

  I thought: Calient? Huh? So, I Googled the word. Still huh. Then Google suggested an alternative spelling: Caliente. Ahh! THAT made sense: HOT. And this meant that the radiator pictured was now — drum roll, please — working! WORKING!!!!!!!! And this means that, after much ado and much $$$ and much time, ALL THE RADIATORS IN… Continue Reading

Timelines

WEDNESDAY: Radiator pipe in parlor is found to be leaking. Water has damaged finished floor. Ross unhappy. WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Around 11PM, Ross has visions of the leaking pipe bursting and destroying the house. Ross struggles NOT to drive back to the house and make sure all is well. A fitful sleep ensues. THURSDAY MORNING: Ross… Continue Reading

And…poo. Again.

Justin and I were in the basement discussing how to reactivate the sole remaining Mouse Palace Motel bathroom in the universe. Then Justin asked: “Is that water?” And the day went to Hell.   Justin pointed to a corner of the basement under the parlor. And there was, indeed, a small pool of water in… Continue Reading

Shaving the House

  The three windows had air blowing in through and around them. While this is bad, the issue was compounded by the fact that the house sagged at this particular area, meaning that the upper and lower sashes did not align in the middle, meaning that the lock sets did not close. We removed the… Continue Reading

Parlor 3.0

                                                      When I finished the above corner, I was struck with a thought: the walls, for the first time, were now, well, worthy of the room. The vine, somehow,… Continue Reading

Ross Did….WHAT????????

Last spring, when finally decorating the parlor of the 1894 Cross House, a lot of readers came to the conclusion that I had no taste. Some came around when the parlor was finished. “I love it!” I am uncertain if everybody came around. During the ensuing months and months, I developed an uneasy awareness that… Continue Reading

Repairing the Oh Poo

Fifteen days ago I did a post about the radiator system being turned back after years of disuse. And all went kinda sorta maybe well…save the parlor ceiling being damaged by a leaking radiator connection. Yes, poo.                 I am crossing my fingers that in a few days… Continue Reading

Z O U N D S

      I then contacted Dr. Doug: “Can you fix this mess?” And the good doctor replied: “Yes.” Wanna see the results? Scroll way down…                                                          … Continue Reading

More Faux

I have done several posts about the mystery of the dining room finish. The room, like most of the rooms in the house, retains its original 1894 faux wood finish. But this is obscured by later finishes. In all the other rooms, the later finishes are shellac, which darkens over time. Luckily, shellac is easily… Continue Reading

The Terrifying Snake

When I purchased the Cross House in 2014, it was blessed with newish three-zone central AC, with three “towers”, as I call them. Tower #2 was in the corner of the library. Which meant that the room now had a boxed-in corner. Oh, the horror. So, I relocated the tower into a closet. In the… Continue Reading

A Faux Story

                                        It has become quite the trend to paint over “depressing” dark trim in houses. This is tragic as simply removing non-original layers of varnish/shellac can reveal…       Continue Reading

Spending the Afternoon in Florida!

  Well, not really. But, it felt like I did. While yesterday was like 60 degrees in Kansas, today the temperature plummeted into the low thirties. I arrived at the Cross House, opened the door, and smiled. It was warm inside, thanks to the newly reactivated radiator system. The thermostat for the radiator boilers was… Continue Reading

Repairs Commence!

        I am SO not looking forward to recreating all the hand-painted work. Sigh. I am not even certain the new work will match the older work. Pray for the ceiling. Pray.   Continue Reading

Kenny. Ross. Frustrated.

            This all reconfirmed my previous experience: the dining room is going to be a problem. In the parlor and library, it was effortless (relatively speaking) to restore the wood in each room. Ditto, so far, with the oak in the stairhall niche. Ditto ditto with the round bedroom mantel.… Continue Reading

Oh. Oh! OH! AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Yesterday, after a long time being dormant, the radiator system in the 1894 Cross House was, after much ado, reactivated. As my post yesterday detailed, some highly distressing and unexpected results occurred. Oopsy-daisy. Well, you can imagine my great excitement, and fear, at arriving at the house today. Would all be well? Or would I… Continue Reading

Oh. Oh! OH! Oh….FUCK!!!!!!!!

Today was the best of days. Today was the worst of days. For, today was the day I have waited years for: getting the radiator system online. At first, it seemed a fortuitous day, being literally 0 degrees. So having more heat was something I would vastly appreciate.   Over the last 123-years, the radiator… Continue Reading

The Screen Doors. PART II.

      The doors are in poor condition. Besides the condition of the hinges, there are missing sections of wood, and the outer veneer (oak?) has delaminated, well, a lot overall. The doors need to go to Dr. Doug for renewal. STAT!       Continue Reading

Kenny. Before & After.

            I greatly enjoyed getting to know Kenny and took him to lunch yesterday and today. I love a good conversation. Also, he has a nice attention to detail that I admire, which makes him ideal for such work. Kenny said he has a few days in February. He asked:… Continue Reading

Prepare to be…GOBSMACKED!

  The west screen doors were extant in 1999 when Bob Rodak purchased the house. They were no longer in situ when I purchased the house in 2014. What happened? Where had they gone? Bob assured me that he had them. But repeated searches, and I mean repeated, did not reveal anything. Recently, Bob told… Continue Reading

A Kenny Resurrection

Last month, Kenny, a reader of this blog, contacted me. He had a question. “I have two days available in January, and would love to volunteer to help with something at the Cross House. Do you have a small project for me?” Why yes. I did have something which, just the previous day, I had… Continue Reading

Radiators in 3, 2, 1…

I am breathless with excitement. I am giddy with excitement. I am LIVING for Tuesday. And why? Because the radiator system at the Cross House will, hopefully, BE BACK ONLINE!!!!!!!!   When I purchased the house four years ago the system was working. Sorta. It did not actually heat the house to anywhere near a… Continue Reading

A Most Unexpected Visitor?

  One of my favorite movies is The Uninvited, from 1944. This is a elegant story about elegant people living in an elegant house…and ghosts. An aspect of the story is that one ghost is never seen but is rather, ah, smelled. “The mimosa! It’s overpowering!” And what, you understandably will be asking, does this have… Continue Reading

The Grand Stair. Golly.

                                A week ago, reconstructing the staircase seemed overwhelming. This is why I ignored it for four years. But, after playing with it for several days, its mysteries have been revealed and I understand how it was put together, and… Continue Reading

Gas/Electric Swivel Sconces! At Last!

  I need many many many pairs of gas/electric sconces for the Cross House. And such sconces are hard to find. But they also need to swivel. And such a feature is incredibly hard to find. Indeed, the pair Cody found was the first I had ever seen. The swivel feature is vital because of… Continue Reading

A Born-Again Staircase

                              Well, today was QUITE the thrill! I am confident that during the next few months I can have the missing spindles recreated, new handrail milled, and other bits. So, perhaps by spring the fabulous grand stair will look, in 2018,… Continue Reading

A Self-Reconstructing Pantry

        Bob thinks he has the north counter, too. Somewhere. There are still missing sections of vertical bits. I have some of these, and Dr. Doug can make up the other lost bits. I will soon be having all the various bits of the pantry analyzed to ascertain all the original finishes.… Continue Reading

The Staircase

                                          So, I need: Handrail for the east and west balustrades. Length of shoe. Length of fillet. 16 spindels. Oak trim for under balustrade. All of this will have to be custom made. Knifes will… Continue Reading

Another Kitchen Window Restored

            The diamond pantry windows are now restored. The huge double south kitchen windows are now restored. And the east kitchen window is now restored. Whoee! Next on the window list are the sashes for the servant’s hall!   The sashes were, originally, painted. I think. A kinda nutmeg color.… Continue Reading

2017. The Year-End Update. THE ROSS.

In my previous post I did a year-end update on the Cross House. This post is a year-end update on me. But why? Well, many readers have expressed interest in knowing the man behind the blog. I understand this, as I grow bored with blogs that endlessly detail a house restoration while never offering a… Continue Reading

2017. The Year-End Update. THE HOUSE.

2017. Wow. What a year. Wow. All the work regarding the 2015 Kansas Heritage Trust Fund Grant was completed! Then, in February, I was notified that the Cross House had been awarded a second full Heritage grant! As amazed as I was to receive the first grant, I was even more amazed to receive a… Continue Reading

Beginning the Round Bedroom. And Other BIG Issues.

When Bob Rodak owned the Cross House, from 1999 to 2014, he rewired it. Well, that is not really accurate. For, Bob super duper atomic rewired. I mean, if a normal rewiring job would have taken a mile of wire, Bob put in three miles of new wiring. This was because Bob wanted a high-tech old house. He… Continue Reading

The Worst Wall…RENEWED

        I also discovered something REALLY odd. See the door in the above image? See the black area, lower left? See the black on the adjacent trim? That is…eek…charred wood! GASP! But why would the wood be charred? Yes, I know, because of fire, but why a fire here? And when did… Continue Reading

Painting My Eyebrow Green

  Next week, I will make the new wood sill, and paint that inside the heated basement workroom. Then I can install the sill, and the already restored window! Weather be dammed!     Continue Reading

An Eyebrow Scrape

  The sash is restored, and is sitting in the basement. I am hoping to paint the frame tomorrow. If not, I lose the weather for a while. Also, I have to recreate the rotted wood sill. I am SOOOOOOOOOO excited about this small project soon being completed!       Continue Reading

The Worst Wall

    The wall had problems from Day 1. It had no support under. It just rested on ceiling joists which, quite understandably, sagged over time. In 1929, things were made exponentially worse when the expansive stair opening was shrunk in half so two kitchens could be created.  But these new kitchens, and the new… Continue Reading

A Lot Of Little Bits

For the last six weeks I have been wandering from room to room doing small things. All these small thing appear to have a common theme: Putting the Cross House back together. And this feel really good. Nothing I have done is visually dramatic. There are no stunning Before/After images. But the house, I dunno,… Continue Reading

Decorating…THE DINING ROOM!

  I am trying to figure out what the “winter project” should be. This is when I hibernate inside the house during the cold months and finish a room. In 2016 this was the library. In 2017 this was the parlor. Now, I am divided between two spaces. Should I finish the stairhall/niche/foyer? Or the… Continue Reading

Before. After.

    When Bob and Debbi Rodak purchased the house in 1999, the house retained all its motel-era bathrooms. In the parlor, the pair of sliding doors which had originally opened into the library now opened into a blue and pink 1950 bathroom. Actually, only one sliding door opened. The other was nailed shut. Wanna… Continue Reading

The Niche…BEGINS!

        The niche is framed by a pair of oak columns with highly distinctive hand-carved capitals. The arch, which appears to be wood, is actually plaster painted to look like wood, and detailed with strips of Lincrusta. There is a triple window with highly expressive trim above. There is a east entrance… Continue Reading

THE HUNT for Yale & Towne Austerlitz Pulls

    Bob, the previous owner, thinks he might have a box-of pulls. But he might not. And, for two years now, I have been after Bob to retrieve the missing 1894 screen doors. So, I am disinclined about spending too much time in this direction. My options thus are to try and find Austerlitz pulls… Continue Reading

Putting Fabulous Back Into The Main Bathroom

  Originally, the second-floor bathroom was the only bathroom on the second floor. It was later turned into a kitchen, and then was gutted by the owner before me, Bob. The only original feature remaining was the tile floor. In 1894, the room had very high wood wainscoting, which I will absolutely recreate. Bob had… Continue Reading

The Most Gorgeous Sash Locks EVER!

    I would never install these in the 1894 Cross House as they are not period-correct. But I am glad to have saved them, and hope to find a good home for them. For, out there somewhere, somebody would kill for these. I know the feeling     Continue Reading

OK. So…maybe NOT fairies.

  It seemed like a miracle. Like fairies had blessed the house with an unexpected gift. You see, I was missing ONE original corner block, but I needed FOUR more to properly finish some alterations I made. So, to come across five corner blocks just astounded me. But my amazement was to be — sigh — dashed.… Continue Reading

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