The Cross House was built in 1894. It is located at 526 Union Street, in Emporia, Kansas. I purchased the house in March 2014. Want to learn about the background of the house? history. virtual tour. timeline. interview! Blueprints! Wanna Meet My….? Wanna tour? Want to help? My blog posts about the restoration are below.… Continue Reading

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

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

Drawings from…The Past.

The Mouse family owned the Cross House from 1929 to 1960. The granddaughters of Scott Mouse, Sr. have been frequent guests since I purchased the house in 2014, and I always enjoy spending time with Lindy and Merryl. A few weeks ago, Merryl sent me a MOST tantalizing email. She had a framed copy of… Continue Reading

Revelations on Drawing #13!

              If WF Norman agrees to modify the finial, the results will not be what was on drawing #3, nor drawing #12, nor as shown in the 1932 image. As in keeping with the evolving history of the octagon finial, the 2016 version will be yet another iteration. There… Continue Reading

MORE Revelations on Drawing #13!

        I like them though. I wonder if WF Norman has some in stock? I will need but five. Or, will I be messing with the time/space continuum by ordering something in 2016, drawn in 1894, but never installed? Might this alter reality as we know it? I mean, what if I… Continue Reading

A Hot Day. But A Nice Day.

  It’s bloody hot. And I am painting the exterior of a huge old wooden house. In the summer of 2014 I was painting the west facade. Much of what I did bubbled, and this drove me INSANE sanding each bubble down to bare wood and repainting. And doing it again. And again. And again.… Continue Reading


      I had some small concerns about the finial, but realized that it would first be a good idea to put the finial atop the tower. Justin bravely offered to inch along the built-in gutters with the finial in hand, and plop it in place. I stood on the street, bravely, taking images.… Continue Reading

MORE Finials!

    The large center finial is for the turret of the Cross House. It has just been restored. The finial on the left is marked “barn”. The barn, I think, was the one-story north wing of the two-story carriage house. It had a large ventilator on top, and I suspect that is where the… Continue Reading

Sleepless…in Emporia

  Of course, I sent the drawing to my favorite people on earth, the WF Norman Company. But…but…they no longer make weathervanes, as people can now buy them for $69.99 from China. Oh. However, they suggested a company in California which should be able to make the above for me. And I, forthwith, sent them… Continue Reading

The Cross House…in Country Living!

  I love reading old house blogs, and already have bookmarked six of the eight blogs Elizabeth recommends. I did not know about the Chateau de Gudanes Restoration and A Farmhouse Reborn, so look forward to digging into these blogs. It is a honor (and thrill!) to have Elizabeth include the Cross House on her select list.… Continue Reading

An 1894 Mystery!

                I doubt I will ever discover an answer to this 122-year-old mystery. What was built would have cost less than what was drawn. But, the savings would have been negligible in the end. However, there are other areas where the detailing on the exterior became simpler:  … Continue Reading

Petite Momentum

Every day, pretty much, something gets better about the Cross House. Yesterday, a window sash was restored. It contains a stained-glass panel, which was restored last month. But the sash itself needed to be restored. The side of the sash facing outside was stripped of its old paint, and then 0000 steel wool was used… Continue Reading

More Than Just Paint

I have been doing a lot of posts about painting the exterior of the Cross House. On occasion, I have to remind myself why I am having my fifty-nine-year-old body climb up/down three stories to paint a massive 122-year-old house? This is insane, actually. But…but…there is no better way for me to acquaint myself with… Continue Reading

Before. After. And…WOW!

    As I have written previously, I never really noticed the “diamond brooch” before. I knew it was there, of course, but with SO much going on with the house, it just did not jump out at me. It does now. I stare at this architectural ensemble in wonder and appreciation. And joy overflows… Continue Reading

What a Day!!!!!!!!

                                                              THE BACKGROUND STORY: I was driving into Emporia to have an 11:30 lunch with David, who is a reader of this blog. Five minutes… Continue Reading

My Two-Year Anniversary!

  I started this blog two years ago. Plus one month. It seems I forgot my own anniversary! When I started the site I expected to have a few hundred people view the site every month. I mean, how much traffic would a blog about some old house in Emporia, Kansas, get? Now, twenty-five months later?… Continue Reading

Little Bits. With a Warning Label.

          A CAUTIONARY NOTE: I mentioned linseed oil. This is rubbed in with a paper towel. Then the towel is taken outside and burned. NEVER put an oil-soaked cloth (or cloth soaked with wood stain) in a trash can in the kitchen. The cloth will later ignite and BURN YOUR HOUSE… Continue Reading

A New Discovery!

          But why? Why remove the narrow door, make it wider, and install it in a location which already had a door? Or…maybe there never WAS a door to the bedroom???????? Hummm. This got me to thinking. And so I looked at the door stop trim around the ‘extended” door (a… Continue Reading

Golly. What a Day!

MORNING           AFTERNOON           DAMN GRASS Another project this afternoon was mowing the grass. For weeks it has been blistering hot, but today it “cooled” to just really hot. But really hot (and humid) is only fractionally better than blistering hot. This is SO not conducive to… Continue Reading

A Stained-Glass Update

Since starting this blog, I have written many times that the Cross House has forty stained-glass windows. Oops. There are forty-TWO. I overlooked the two stained-glass transom windows in the main vestibule. Originally though, there were forty-THREE stained-glass windows, but one went missing…                        … Continue Reading

More Stained-Glass!

            Although the stained-glass panels are now restored, the wood sashes now need restoring, and the panels then to to be bedded and glazed. So, it will be a bit before the colorful glories return to their nest. The long bedroom will be mine, and it will be fun waking… Continue Reading

A Mystery Revealed?

                This got me to thinking. What if my suspected 1894 plan was correct? And what if the vanity and toilet did sit on marble slabs (a detail I have long adored)? If so, then the current floor (part tile, part cement) would make sense. For, in squeezing… Continue Reading

Another Mystery Revealed?

                      See the small hole at the bottom? I have no idea what that was for. The two holes above it were obviously the hot/cold lines. The two larger holes below were drain lines. MYSTERY QUESTION #1: But why two drain lines? Was one for… Continue Reading

Mysteries STILL Not Revealed

          I have two ideas: The pair of 3 holes right/left held a soap dish and water glass. The center 3 held a ring, which held a beaded chain for a sink stopper. Or maybe not. As I sat on the floor and stared and stared and stared at this bedeviling… Continue Reading

Mysteries Assumed

  I THINK there was a marble vanity to the left. I THINK there was a high-tank toilet to the right. I THINK each rested upon marble slabs. The rest of the flooring was (and still is) porcelain geometric tiles by the American Encaustic Tiling Company. I DON’T KNOW if the vanity had an marble… Continue Reading

Mysteries Solved?

Five days ago I did a post about a large white quartz slab. The slab is the east-side wainscoting of the first-floor bathroom of the Cross House. Because I have no original floor plans of the first-floor (drat!), and a lot of the plaster has been removed in the bathroom, and the original floor has… Continue Reading

Period Lighting

While the Cross House is remarkably intact, it is missing all its original lighting. The house, built in 1894, was likely one of the first houses in Emporia to have electricity, and all its lighting was gas/electric combination fixtures. About a decade later, all electric was not uncommon. A decade previous, gas was the norm. So, the… Continue Reading

Period Lighting. Issues & Ideas & A Warning

While the Cross House is remarkably intact, all its original lighting is long gone. When I purchased the house in 2014, I knew it had gas lighting. So, I dutifully started purchasing gas lighting fixtures. Later I learned that the house actually had gas/electric lighting when built. Which is quite a different thing. Oh. Having… Continue Reading

Period Lighting. Oh My.

Yesterday, I did a post about the latest gas/electric almost period-correct chandeliers added to the Cross House. I ended the post with a warning: In a day or so I will post images of the parlor chandelier installed! PREPARE TO GASP! Well, today I installed the period-correct parlor chandelier. Note the lack of almost. Are… Continue Reading

A New, Tiny, Discovery!

      The location is odd for two reasons. First, it is low. None of the other wall sconce location in the house (most rooms have at least two) are this low. Second, why only one sconce in the corner? All the other sconce locations are for pairs. My theory is that this single,… Continue Reading

Period Lighting. ARGH!

  But it sold a second before. Poo. Big poo. The fixture, while not right for the Cross House (it is all electric, rather than gas/electric) is just amazing, and something only rarely seen. Poo.         Continue Reading

Before. After.

  The BEFORE sashes look like crap. Really, they look like something which one would toss into a dumpster without hesitation. But under the old, flaking paint, and under the old, brittle glazing, is wonderful old glass and old-growth wood in excellent condition. The sashes, restored, could well last another century. New sashes? These have… Continue Reading


  OK! Now, while looking, however briefly, to the left, do you see the newly restored window sashes? I am so excited! The glittering stained-glass windows in the Cross House are so intoxicating that it is easy to overlook the fact that the house has like 6,796 clear-glass windows, too. Well, maybe not 6,796, but there… Continue Reading

They Slide! They Slide!

Life can be quite vexing. We have all experienced difficulties and tragedies. But, I put forth that there are few things more vexing than having an old house with sliding doors…which don’t slide. I have been through a lot in life. A lot. Don’t get me started. But, sliding doors which don’t slide is JUST… Continue Reading

Small Bits

          Flat-head nails on lap-siding? Hummmm…there is a limit to what my delicate sensibilities should endure. So, today, I pulled out all the nails causing such an affront. Tomorrow, I will Gorilla glue the cracks, pre-drill holes, and hammer in FINISH galvanized nails (which have no head). I will then set… Continue Reading

Introducing Hollywood-Regency into the Cross House

The Cross House was built in 1894. It is now 2016. So, 122-years have elapsed since the house was built. And during these many years a lot has happened in terms of lighting and furnishings and fabrics. While I am greatly devoted to restoring the architecture of the Cross House to its 1894 appearance, there… Continue Reading

My New Baby!

                                                    In the archival image it is difficult to tell exactly what the original finial looked like. The original 1894 drawings were helpful, but could not be relied upon as… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Mantels?

The Cross House was built in 1894 and had eight coal fireplaces. All the mantels AND over-mantles are in situ. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. Because the house also had radiators, it seems curious that the fireplaces were even used. I mean, why bother with the work and mess? The mantels were, I presume, all ordered from… Continue Reading

Searching for Elusive Finishes

              I glopped paint stripper on the rest of the insert, and then went to paint more on the Great North Wall. While painting, the insert kept swimming around my brain. No, it made NO sense that the original finish was friggin’ gold paint. Paint! Again, my mind kept… Continue Reading

Searching for Elusive Finishes. II

          Well, now I have to do another frame and see what is under its paint! The Entrance Hall fireplace? Library? Long Bedroom? Or the other three fireplaces? Oh! I am wracked with indecision! Wracked!   Continue Reading

Wanna Meet Bo?

I often write about Bo Sullivan. And Bo graciously often comments here. I love this about him. Curiously, I don’t recall when or how we met. Well, met isn’t quite accurate. We have never met in person. It has all been emails and phone conversations. Bo lives in the upper left corner of the country.… Continue Reading

I Am Breathless With Excitement!

      A titanic-sized goal of mine has been to get the damn railings back on the porch. And lattice. I found most of the railings moldering away on the ground in the back yard. Horrified, I brought them all into the house to dry out, and see what could be salvaged. In they… Continue Reading

More Stained-Glass Windows. A Giddy Update

          Before, the windows were beautiful. Now, after all the glass has been cleaned in an acid bath, they GLITTER! As you walk by, they sparkle as if a zillion fireflies are somehow flying inside the glass. The effect cannot captured in an image but is delightfully, wondrously, and magically evident… Continue Reading

Ceiling Cooties

  The wood ceiling is splotched with mold or mildew or something. I’ve never done anything with it yet, and just presumed the mold is seeped into the wood. How to remove it? This has been the big stumbling block. Plus, it seems like a horrible job even if I knew how to proceed. This… Continue Reading

Traveling Back In Time

  Can you feel yourself being dissolved on a molecular level? A rush, right? It’s OK though. We will reconstitute once back in 1929. It’s now 2015, now 2014, now 2013…now 1990……now 1950………and now 1929. 1929! Crazy, right! I know! Now, give yourself a moment. That weird queasy feeling will dissipate. Feeling OK now? Oh… Continue Reading

Happy Endings

    The curved cornice has nothing behind it. Only the top and bottom are attached to anything. This made filling the gap a seemingly impossible job, as there was no there there to attach anything to. There was just the thin edge of metal. After some pondering, I realized spray foam would do the… Continue Reading

Pretty Round Things

            I find such work deeply, powerfully satisfying. To take something which was once beautiful, but over the many decades had been worn by time and obscured by uncaring paint jobs, and bring it back to its true glory, is, well, a real thrill. As the Cross House abounds with… Continue Reading

A Finial Triptych

  The left finial is on the turret of the carriage house. The finial base design/size was copied from the original drawings, and the swirl on top matches the same on the tower finial. WF Norman once again did fine work, and was a pleasure to work with. Thanks, Mark! The finial will look even… Continue Reading

Letters of Support. HELP!

  Before buying the house, I learned of the Heritage Fund, and hoped that the house could receive funding, as the restoration would exceed my financial abilities. So, I crossed by fingers (and toes) and took a leap of faith. I would not have purchased the house but for the possibility of this help. The… Continue Reading

Tantalizing Doors!

        The previous owner, Bob Rodak, told me he almost certainly has the front screen doors. Does he have the north screen door? It was there when he purchased the house. I texted Bob, but have not yet received a response. And my inquiries about the front screen doors have, so far,… Continue Reading

Window Therapy

I have not posted anything in five days. This is the longest stretch of time with no new posts since I started this blog 2-1/2-years ago. For, the events of the week have totally stunned, overwhelmed, depressed, and powerfully angered me. So, I mostly just shut down. Today though I knew that I could not… Continue Reading

What Color To Paint My 1894 Porch Ceiling?

  I was determined to repaint the house in the original colors. And I thought I had. But this year I belatedly discovered that while I got the trim color right, I ended up selecting the second wall color, because I assumed that the VERY pale color under was primer! So, while the colors I… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Basement?

  Servant’s stair. This goes to all four floors, and is the stair I mostly use. I think of it as the default staircase. Stair to exterior. Original laundry room. Dumbwaiter. Now lost but I will recreate it. Laundry chute. This is only extant on the second floor. Everything below was removed. I will recreate… Continue Reading

Cleaning Therapy

I know that I am still traumatized by the events of last Tuesday because I am in Full-Blown Obsessive Cleaning Mode. An intervention might soon be required. When something really bad happens over there, I find that if I can make things better over here, like by, say, antiseptically cleaning my toilets bowls, I will… Continue Reading

Sealing Up Windows

The Cross House has 4,738 windows. OK. Maybe not that many. But there are a lot. I get scared when I try and count how many, so my solution is to never finish counting. Wind freely blows into the house because the sashes are so loose in the frames. I could laboriously install bronze weather-stripping… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Third Floor?

The Cross House has five levels: Basement. First floor. Second floor. Third floor. Attic. The first three levels are heated by radiators and have a 2-zone central AC system (and one zone can also heat the first two levels if the radiator system fails for any reason). The third floor has forced-air heating/cooling. The third… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My…?

My briefest post ever! I have a new page. Click here to meet the Cross House up close. This new page will be updated with links as they are created. Enjoy!       Continue Reading

Can You Help My Steel Casement Windows?

When the Cross House was converted into a motel in 1950 the basement was transformed into motel rooms. Really. Alternations included replacing wood windows with five steel casement windows. These are not obvious from the outside, as two are under porches, and two are behind limestone “lattice”. The fifth steel window, under the library, is… Continue Reading

A Wallpaper Discovery!

It was thrill in late 2014 to discover the 1894 wallpaper in the two-story stair hall, and I did a post summing up what I had learned. The paper was discovered in the upper stair-hall, or second floor. I assumed that the same paper had also been installed on the first floor of the stair-hall… Continue Reading

Another Wallpaper Discovery!

Yesterday I did a post about discovering that the 1894 wallpaper in the UPPER stair-hall was also used in the LOWER hall. But the latter had a green background while the former had a silver background. This was a really cool discovery Then Bo asked: Was there also a frieze on the first floor? Ahhhh,… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Attic?

              In short? The attic is a mess. As it is not a priority item I have ignored it even though I occasionally can hear it calling out to me: Clean me! Cleeeeeeeeeeeeen me! Cruelly, I have ignored these plaintive pleas. I do however have a plan: Heat/cool the attic,… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My 1894 Kitchen Floor?

When I purchased the Cross House there was a 1970s vinyl floor in the kitchen. I pulled that up only to discover a 1950s linoleum floor. I pulled that up to discover…an astonishing 1930s floor. It looked like something Fred Flintstone would have in his kitchen. This 1930s linoleum was totally fabulous, and while in… Continue Reading

Santa Arrives Early

While I continue my trauma-induced obsessive cleaning frenzy of the Cross House, I ventured into the basement. This level is pretty much spotless. I regularly vacuum every square inch, and even wipe down the tops of my four beloved pulse boilers. But…but…one room has remained largely untouched since I purchased the house: Aladdin’s Cave. This… Continue Reading

Desperately Seeking Picture Rail

      I can have picture rail milled for me. There is a knife charge (around $250) but otherwise the cost would not be high. In most rooms I will need something like basswood, and with oak in the entry hall. It seems critical to recreate this important architectural feature, and if you know… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Water Table?

A water table is an architectural feature designed to shed water. So, when water drips down exterior walls, a water table at the bottom will “kick” the water away from the foundation. The Cross House has a highly visible and distinctive water table made from two pieces of wood. These two pieces also protect the… Continue Reading

My Winter Plans?

Most of my time spent on the Cross House involves painting the exterior. If somebody had told me before I purchased the house that I would be doing this I do not think I would have pursued the house. My painting the exterior was a decision developed in incremental steps. I tried finding a painter;… Continue Reading

Drooling Over Historic Kitchens

WARNING: A RANT: There is something which quite vexes me! Kitchens. On the fabulous Old House Dreams, for example, a house will be shown from, say, 1905, but with a 1950s kitchen. And people will comment: Oh! I would need to tear out that kitchen and install a period-correct one. I read (and hear) this… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Kitchen?

Like most every room in the Cross House, the kitchen looks like a bomb has gone off in it. The entire ceiling is missing. The walls are missing large areas of plaster. Flooring is missing. Trim and wainscoting are missing. But what remains is…good. The original yellow pine flooring is under later linoleum. Much of… Continue Reading

Making the Butler Happy

          The WHY of the remuddling makes no sense. WHY remove a counter? WHY remove two drawers? WHY lower the tall doors? If somebody wanted more closed storage, why didn’t they just put doors over the counter area? A mystery!   Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Arches?

Recently, Bo asked about the arches in the Cross House. There are three. And they not quite as they appear. All the arches are in the expansive entry/stairhall.             The arches (and columns) are diminished by heavy alligatoring. This will be removed. And at some point I will bring in… Continue Reading

An Improvement. Please Don’t Laugh.

    Looks better, right? Right? Right???????? Sigh. I know, it’s kinda laughable that I can take some pleasure in this micro improvement while all around is cracked plaster, missing plaster, a missing ceiling, unrestored trim, and a drop cloth covering the windows. But…a selective eye is a Godsend when one is restoring an old… Continue Reading

Burning in Preservation Hell

Young couple tells their realtor: “We want a cool old house UNTOUCHED by time! We want it to be ALL ORIGINAL! We love old houses and want to respect history!” Young couple buys amazingly intact old house. And then proceeds to tear out the original kitchen and bathrooms. They then gut the house to the… Continue Reading

Making the News!

  The large image shows the house from a few months ago. The smaller image is from 1999 and was taken by Bob Rodak, who sold the house to me.  When Bob, and his late wife, Debbi, purchased the house it was boarded up and in terrifying condition, and I have always felt that Bob… Continue Reading

HAPPY HOLIDAYS 2016!!!!!!!!

      The first such tree was a straight line along its base. Then I realized that you could only see it head on. Coming from the south or east? The tree disappeared! The second incarnation had a V-shaped base and this hugely helped although the V was a bit pinched. The third incarnation… Continue Reading

Old House Ceiling Fans

In the 1894 Cross House I am planning to install ceiling fans. The idea is to install a chandelier in the center of most rooms, with a pair of ceiling fans to each side. The rooms are large enough to do this. One concern is that the house would not have had ceiling fans when… Continue Reading

A Surprise!

  The big white square is where a murphy bed cabinet was installed in 1929. This was later turned into a closet. The cabinet is now dismantled and stored away. I plan to reinstall it. But…look at the vertical rectangle to the left. This is what I never noticed before. And all of a sudden… Continue Reading

Unwanted Guests

I am hoping to get the radiators turned on next month. In order to do so I need to get a couple hooked up still. Like the one in the servant’s hall (eventual breakfast room). This radiator could not be installed because the floor was torn up in 2014 because of termite damage, and I… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Kitchen PLAN?

After three years of endlessly thinking about the new kitchen for the Cross House, I have at last created a plan. Will I build the plan? Only time will tell. I have endlessly pondered these possibilities: Create a dazzling modernist kitchen. Create an authentic 1894 period-correct kitchen. Create a period kitchen from the 1920s or… Continue Reading

The Mystery of the 1894 Kitchen Sink

In my previous post I presented plans for the kitchen of the 1894 Cross House. Several readers wanted to know why I was not going to install a big ol’ sink against the south wall. To answer this question a bit of sleuthing is required.     The kitchen abounds with space and doors and… Continue Reading

Faux Kitchens

Yesterday I did a post about my plans for the kitchen of the 1894 Cross House. These plans were created after three years of thinking and pondering and fretting and research. Informing all my ideas were two conflicting thoughts: Create a period-correct kitchen. Create a comfortable, convenient kitchen. The problem? I had no idea how… Continue Reading

The Cross House Museum?

Riley asked what my plans were for the Cross House post-me. I have actually given this a lot of thought. In my lifetime I have seen houses beautifully restored in the 1970s, and then demolished three decades later because they were in such poor condition. I have also seen houses in perfect condition, and architectural… Continue Reading


As part of the 2015 Heritage Trust grant, about 2/3 of the 42 stained-glass windows in the Cross House are being restored. The last set to be done as part of the grant are the five in the dining room. There is one VERY long one in the middle, two curved ones, and two flat… Continue Reading

Ross Did WHAT????????

When the Cross House was built in 1894 it had wall-to-wall carpeting on the first- and second-floors, 22-inch-wide strips hand-sewn together. The very acme of luxury. However, I will forever curse this decision. For, under the carpet was just cheap random-width pine. In 1929, I surmise, plain oak floors were laid on the second floor,… Continue Reading

Unnoticed Exuberance

          In short, in a couple of square feet there is a LOT of wondrous detailing going on. Sadly, none of this exuberance has been noticed for decades, the results of unflattering and poor paint jobs. But, as was shown dramatically with the Before/After images of the Diamond Brooch on the… Continue Reading

WF Norman Road Trip!

This year I took two road trips to the fabulous WF Norman Company in Missouri. Norman is almost as old as the Cross House, and the company restored its tower finial, recreated the lost finial on the octagon tower, and created a finial for the carriage house turret. As awed and fascinated as I was by… Continue Reading

Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the Cross House

Many many years ago I lived in St. Petersburg, Florida. And one of my most vivid, cherished memories is of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Every year, about ten days before Christmas, Mr. and Mrs. Claus would sit in their respective rocking chairs, atop the roof of their porch, and wave at passing cars. Every… Continue Reading

2016. The Year-End Update. THE HOUSE.

2016. 2016. 2016. Has there ever been such a year? 2016 is the year that the Heritage Trust Grant work commenced! This involved relining the miles of built-in gutters, installing new shingles on all the secondary roofs, restoring about 2/3 of the 42 stained-glass windows, and replacing rotted sills, rotted water-table trim, rotted sheathing, and… Continue Reading

2016. The Year-End Update. THE ROSS.

2016. 2016. 2016. Has there ever been such a year? The year grabbed me, snatched away countless hours of my time, and, in the end, spit on me. In my previous post I detailed much of the work done on the Cross House in 2016. And a great much did happen. A great much also… Continue Reading

Rebuilding My Rear

The Cross House sits on a highly visible corner, and all four facades can be fully seen depending on what direction one is walking/driving. The east facade is, technically, the rear of the house but it is fully exposed to anybody driving west along Highway 50, about 25-feet away from the house. Yep, close. Scary… Continue Reading

Unknown EEK!

        The brackets are made of four pieces of wood nailed together. To repair this eek issue I could remove the bracket, cut away the eek parts, and attach new pressure-treated parts, cut to the right shape. A plan! This plan however presupposes I can get the bracket out. Will this prove… Continue Reading

Singing In The Rain

Today I was singing in the rain. Well, not really. And for two reasons. First, it was not raining today. It was wet, yes, but I never saw any rain. Rather, it was like being on the Scottish moors. It was kinda foggy all day and with what must have been like 250% humidity. Had… Continue Reading

Site Stats

On December 27, I posted two back-to-back posts. This was my annual year-end report but this year I broke it in two. The first was THE HOUSE and the second was THE ROSS. I did this as a way of letting readers know that the latter post would be personal. In the post I wrote… Continue Reading

Respecting the Historical Narrative

In my previous post, Travis (a guy I know and adore) stated: “I think you’re overly concerned about the “historic narrative”.” I started to reply but realized that doing a post on the subject might be better. So, Travis, this very very very wordy post is all your fault!   IS TRAVIS RIGHT? Often, I… Continue Reading

What The Heck Does An 1890s Light Switch Look Like?

Cody just asked if I would be installing period-correct light switches in the 1894 Cross House. I stared and stared at the question on my computer screen. Huh? What? I have never given this an ounce of thought, and was planning to install modern switches (and electrical outlets). These would not confuse the historical narrative… Continue Reading

1890s Light Switches. A 24-HOUR UPDATE

Yesterday I was minding my own business when Cody asked a question. I was struck dumb by the question, and did a post as an answer. The question: Would I be installing period-correct light switches in the Cross House? I had never thought about this before, and knew NOTHING about what light switches looked like… Continue Reading

Lusting After Little Chairs With Little Wheels

Even though I have spent a lifetime being obsessed with design and decoration, and have four decades experience in interior design, I know almost nothing about what furniture looked like in the 1890s. Almost a year ago I did a LONG post articulating my thoughts on how to decorate the parlor of the Cross House.… Continue Reading

NOW What Did Ross Do????????

I did a post about the non-original oak floors being refinished in the parlor and library of the Cross House. Some readers loved my…ah…unorthodox approach. Some readers…did not. For those of the former, you may, I hope, like this update. For those of the latter, you should not, I repeat, should not scroll down to… Continue Reading

I Am Brilliant! (not)

      Right after installing my brilliance, Justin and I stopped by Groh & Sons for a small thing we needed. Groh relined the gutters at the Cross House and did all the roofing, as part of the Heritage Trust Grant. While there we spoke with John who showed us some equipment and materials… Continue Reading

Handsome Justin…Tantalizes.

My briefest ever post: Today, I received a text from Handsome Justin, who refinished the parlor and library floors. I thought they were done, but Justin texted: More glossy for Rossy? What a caution! I replied: Can I get MORE????? Justin then called and explained that he had some unexpected time, and could put a… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My One Original Light Switch?

Recently, I did a post, inspired by a question Cody asked, about installing period-correct light switches in the 1894 Cross House. Then I did an update. When Cody posited his question I had not a clue what early 1890s light switches looked like. A day later I knew a few things, and what I learned… Continue Reading

You are going to be SO excited!

        My temporary solution made the center window look like it was floating. It just looked odd. At first, with SO much else unfinished this did not bother me. Much. But after all the painting was done of this facade, and the roofs redone, and the tower finial restored, and a finial… Continue Reading

A Yard Sale At The Cross House!

I am breathless to announce a yard sale at the Cross House! INCREDIBLE things are going to be for sale! Like a Studebaker Colonial phaeton! A Van range! Five pairs of damask portieres! And so on! Oh…wait…oops…I made a…mistake. There IS a sale…yes…but it was…113-years ago.     This amazing discovery was forwarded to me… Continue Reading

The Cross House…de-vexed.

One can be delicate. By the I mean that one is easily offended, and easily upset about small matters. One can be strong, but have, ah, some delicate sensibilities. These are two very different things. And I suffer, occasionally, from the latter. Or perhaps I have watched too many movies based on novels by Jane… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Limestone?

                            I grew up in in a cheap-as-can-be 1950s ranch and this engendered in me a passionate appreciation for quality. This is why, as I walk up/down the stone steps on the main porch I often think: I love these steps! This… Continue Reading

The Oval Office…copied the Cross House!

I have done several posts about having the circa-1950 oak floors in the parlor and library of the Cross House refinished in…stripes. Some readers love the look. Some readers are…aghast! Me? I am incredibly, thrillingly in love with the look. Once everything is in place (area rugs, drapery, furnishings) the floors will be a subtle… Continue Reading

WARNING: A Temporary Danger!

All old house restorers know this: Because of a lack of time and/or money, one does a “temporary” repair. However, over the decades, I have learned that temporary usually becomes permanent. For example, let’s say you have an original window. The sashes are in very poor condition, as are the frame and sill, but all are… Continue Reading

A Bit More Done!

  The newly milled water table (trim that goes at the bottom) is also ready, and I will be picking it up this week in Kansas City. Justin is scheduled to begin installing the trim (cedar!) the following Monday, weather permitting. Come April I hope to be able to paint all the new siding. At… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Servant’s Stair?

A few months ago Meg asked about the servant’s stair in the Cross House. The stair serves all four levels of the house, and is my primary up/down route. The previous owner gutted the stair as he planned to install an elevator. While I am grieved at the loss of all the original plaster I… Continue Reading


                                                  On Saturday, after having (or so I had assumed) finished painting the paneling under the center triple window green, I was a block away and looked back at the house.… Continue Reading

My Marriage Proposal!

    Jill and I went upstairs and she showed me something which was a concern, and asked what she should do. I knew just the person who could help and texted her the contact number. As we chatted my eye glanced at something which made my heart stop. OMG! OMG! I AM FREAKIN’ OUT!!!!!!!!… Continue Reading

Magical Tools!

Tools. They make all the difference in restoring a house. And one would think that at my age, and with all my decades of restoring houses, I would know about every tool there is, right? Nope. Justin recently pulled a tool out of his mighty arsenal and I was gobsmacked at its…potential. It is a… Continue Reading

A Teasing Post

Usually, I can still do exterior painting in January. Not every day, but Kansas weather goes up and down almost daily. February? I hibernate inside. The Great Interior Plan for February is to get the Parlor and Library decorated! The infamous striped floors are now done, and I have most of the furnishings and all… Continue Reading

Golly! What a Day!

              While in Ottawa, I stopped in an antique store. Looking around I saw a little chair on little wheels. It was sweet. But no pair. As I turned to walk away I saw its mate a few feet away. I froze. Before me were two little Victorian-era chairs… Continue Reading

Decorating. INSANITY!

I have been a bit quiet of late, blog-wise. In January I sold a ton of lighting (I restore vintage lighting for a living) and have been frantically getting all these fixtures restored and packed and shipped. Whew! Yesterday, I had a VERY important meeting and am breathless about the results. Please stand by, Because… Continue Reading

The Ark

In 2015 the Cross House was awarded a Kansas Heritage Trust grant of $90,000. This grant was used to reline all the built-in gutters, restore about 80% of the 42 stained-glass windows, restore some clear-glass windows, replace missing exterior siding, shingle all the secondary roofs, and replace the rotted sill and water-table. Last November I… Continue Reading

Neurosis. Revealed.

This post isn’t JUST about the Cross House. This post is, ah, also about a heretofore unrealized and very weird neurosis that I, Ross, might suffer from. This dramatic outing is explained…       After the railing was removed I experienced a wholly unexpected sensation: The lack of a railing made me feel terribly…exposed. This… Continue Reading

Resurrecting a Dumbwaiter

The 1894 Cross House originally had a dumbwaiter serving the kitchen and laundry room in the basement. This fabulous feature was removed, I think, in 1929 when the house was converted into apartments. The change allowed a new hall, so a person to go directly from the kitchen to the family entrance on the south… Continue Reading

Little Chairs on Little Wheels. THE HUNT

Previously, I have written about my hunt for little chairs on little wheels. Pretty much every such chair I find pre-dates the 1894 Cross House. While the house may well have been originally furnished with pieces already owned by Susan and Harrison Cross I am inclined to think that because the house was architecturally sophisticated… Continue Reading

Movie Stars at the Cross House!

OK. Something VERY interesting and VERY weird is soon to happen at the Cross House. There are two people I have never met, two people who also do not know each other, who contacted me and said they wanted to travel across vast distances to visit the Cross House.   Ms. Davis The first person,… Continue Reading

Water Tabled!

        I think I should be able to get all this painted this week, and boy what a difference that will make! AND, the diamond-paned pantry windows will reappear!!!!!!!! So, stay tuned to this channel!     Continue Reading

Stencil Arrival!

      I chose the stencil for numerous reasons: What I REALLY like about the stencil is the fact that I can do an asymmetrical pattern. This will be a ton easier, will prevent the pattern from awkwardly bashing into the mantel or trim (because I can place the pattern wherever it looks best), and I… Continue Reading

Bette Davis at the Cross House!

    Ms. Davis let me know that she would like to stay incognito during her visit (“fans can be SUCH a bother!”) so she asked me to call her Krystal. And, what Ms. Davis wants Ms. Davis gets! After arriving, I gave “Krystal” a quick tour and then we went to lunch at Radius where… Continue Reading

A Discovery! A Mystery! A Supposition!

A DISCOVERY! In the 1960s it seems that the Toms family, which owned the Cross House from 1950 to 1992, added an exterior door to the original Dining Room so they could have a private entrance (as the house was being used at times as a motel, boarding house, fraternity, and sorority). The doorway was… Continue Reading

Small Pleasures

  There are two pillows on the sofa. Brown pillows. Brown! Ugh! I have long planned to recover them but have not as yet found the perfect fabric. After Krystal reduced the length of the drapery panels for the library and parlor last week I was left with a lot of extra fabric. Oh! What… Continue Reading


I hear a lot of things about the Cross House which are not true. Visitors to the house tell me that the dark, detailed wainscoting on much of the first floor is hand-tooled leather. I explain that it is Lincrustra, basically sawdust and glue. Vistors insist that it is hand-tooled leather and look at me as… Continue Reading

Golly! It’s National Tile Day!

This morning Chris emailed me to let me know it was National Tile Day! And thank goodness for I otherwise would have had no idea! Chris also wanted to know if I could could do an update on the tile in the Cross House. You know, for National Tile Day. OK! In February, 2015, I… Continue Reading

Vexed. Damned vexed.

I wrote the following about the Cross House in my very first post in August, 2014: And, most disturbing and altogether terrifying, the house needed a ton of work. However, a-ton-of-work can in no way truly convey the reality of just how much work was required. The projected expense and time required to even make the house… Continue Reading

A Magical…Portal?

  This mysterious door, it be told, was, in a faraway time long long ago, where an Ice Man would show up in the wee morning hours and deposit huge blocks of ice. All this would be done without waking the Cross family or staff from their deep, dreamy slumbers. Many years would pass before a… Continue Reading

Painting Picture Rail

In 1894, almost every room in the Cross House had picture rail. Curiously, all this trim was later removed but ghost outlines thankfully remain. Without the rail, the rooms look, to me, unbalanced. The tall walls just visually morph into the ceilings. The tall windows and their trim are visually unconnected to each other. Recently,… Continue Reading

Year Four…BEGINS!

Three years ago, as of yesterday, I took possession of the 1894 Cross House. The house was terrifyingly huge. H U G E. The house was, too, in terrifying condition. Y I K E S. So, why in the world did I do something so insane? Well…ummm…ahhh….love. Love, baby. I was in love. And three… Continue Reading

…getting READY!

    The ceiling stencils will soon be here! And the picture rail is now on site! I have to order the metallic powders for the stencils (pearl, gold, and copper) and am hoping to accomplish that this weekend! So…soooooooooon….there will be loveliness in the parlor! I am breathless with anticipation and excitement! (And, did… Continue Reading

Ziggy Stardust in the House

    I have often stated that I have no desire to live with a period-correct decor. Rather, I want the decor of the house to reflect 123-years of design and history. So, this memorial piece to David Bowie, hanging in a house built in 1894, pleases me greatly. I suspect Mr. Bowie would have… Continue Reading

Cary Grant…Is In The House.

Today, Cary Grant arrived at the Cross House. Previously, I alluded to his visit, and am thrilled that Mr. Grant has now stepped over the threshold! OK, so, ah, maybe it’s not really Cary Grant. Maybe…it…is…Bo! Yes! Bo Sullivan has traveled half-way across the country to document the 1894 wallpapers in the house, no matter… Continue Reading

A Petite Update

I am sad. Why am I sad? Because Bo left today. Sad. So sad. I asked Bo to stay longer but he said something REALLY nonsensical: “But…but…I have to get back to my life.” Huh? WHAT does that even mean? What could possibly be more important than running all over Emporia looking at fabulous old… Continue Reading

A Monday Update!

ANNOUNCEMENT! During the next week or so I will be doing a series of MYSTERIES REVEALED posts about the numerous magical discoveries made during the — drum roll, please — BO VISIT! Stay tuned! TODAY:                   Continue Reading

Discovery #1!!!!!!!!

OK! Let the games begin! This is the first of a series of Discovery posts, and all based on the Bo Adventure!   A while back I confirmed that the Cross House had picture rail throughout when built. This was, alas, and curiously, all long gone. There was no question that I would reinstate such… Continue Reading

Discovery #2!!!!!!!!

OK! Let the games begin! This is the second of a series of Discovery posts, and all based on the Bo Adventure!   I have really weird front doors. It’s true. There are three entry vestibules in the Cross House, and each has an inner and outer set of doors. The main entry faces west,… Continue Reading


  I was breathless with excitement! But…where was the tub? It was no longer in place. Did Bob remove it? Even if the tub was long gone, at least I had an image. Now I knew what to look for! The next day a thought popped into my head: Is the tub in the garage?… Continue Reading

Discovery #3!!!!!!!!

OK! Let the games begin! This is the third of a series of Discovery posts, and all based on the Bo Adventure!   THE most exciting, THE most thrilling, and THE most unexpected discovery during the Bo Adventure happened during the last half-hour of Bo’s stay. During this mind-boggling half-hour, things began by Bo and I innocuously… Continue Reading

Discovery #4!!!!!!!!

OK! Let the games begin! This is the fourth in a series of Discovery posts, and all based on the Bo Adventure!   I picked Bo up at the airport, and we drove the two hours to Emporia, arriving late in the afternoon. Bo wanted to run through the Cross House before checking into his… Continue Reading

ALERT! A Curved Sofa ALERT!!!!!!!!

  Well! One is on eBay! It is in Connecticut, pick-up only. So, if you need a fabulous sofa, and are sorta in the area… NOTE: The sofa is in two pieces, and the pieces will spoon into a mini-van. The link is here.       Continue Reading

Wanna Meet Frank and Esther?

In 1960, the Cross House was purchased by Frank and Esther Toms. The house was later inherited by their son, Bob, who sold it in 1993. This thirty-three-year period of ownership is the longest in the 123-year history of the house. Even longer than the thirty-one-year history of the Mouse family. I have been told… Continue Reading

THE CHAIR…is in the house!

    In decorating the Cross House I will be using few antiques. And I greatly desire that these select antiques support the period when the house was built. The house was innovative and I feel a desire to be respectful of this. So, I do not want antiques from the 1870s or 1880s or… Continue Reading

THE 1970s…are in the house!

Previously, I did a post about decorating the parlor and library of the 1894 Cross House. In the parlor I was thinking about using an incredibly wild & crazy 1970s-inspired paper by the esteemed Bradbury & Bradbury. It arrived today.     The library has almost NO wall space as the room is 80% bookshelves… Continue Reading

Discovery #5!!!!!!!!

OK! Let the games begin! This is the fifth in a series of Discovery posts, and all based on the Bo Adventure!   It was a dark and stormy night as Bo and I crept into the abandoned, unlighted carriage house. The house shuddered from thunder, and the windows, for an instant, and then another instant,… Continue Reading

Discovery #6!!!!!!!!

OK! Let the games begin! This is the sixth in a series of Discovery posts, and all based on the Bo Adventure!   In my previous post, Discovery #5, I wrote about an oddity which Bo noticed about about the window sashes in the second-floor “tower” room in the Cross House. The discovery was of a… Continue Reading

Down The Rabbit Hole

Bo asked, innocently: “Why are these sashes so…odd?” And then all Hell broke loose. In my previous post, I detailed how all I knew about the carriage house was likely wrong. Way wrong. And all because Bo asked an innocent question about some sashes.       OVERVIEW       I have shown the… Continue Reading

Discovery #7!!!!!!!!

OK! Let the games begin! This is the seventh in a series of Discovery posts!   A great mystery of the original Cross House kitchen is: WHERE was the sink? The room is large but has almost no wall space for a sink. There is one large window, one massive double window, six doors/openings, and a brick… Continue Reading

Things I’ve Learned

I have always loved architecture. As a kid my favorite toy was Lego Blocks. Endlessly, I would build house after house after house with the small multi-colored plastic blocks. Looking at floor plans was (and is) a mesmerizing task. Mesmerizing! I started drawing my own plans based on TV houses like, for example, Bewitched. I… Continue Reading

The Red Door…Returned

A while back I did a post about the Red Door. The exterior door was in the dining room, facing east. The door was not original to the room. Its opening had originally been a window. In my previous Red Door post I wrote about the head-scratching adventure Justin and I had in trying to ascertain… Continue Reading

A Decorative Update

Every winter I hibernate and, so, plan X number of inside projects. At the end of November I even did a post about my Winter Plans. But winter, as least in Kansas this year, did not really happen and I spent more time outside than in. Of my Winter Plans, only 1.5 items got done.… Continue Reading


  Recently, I did a post about how pretty much everything I knew about the 1894 carriage was wrong. In the above image pretty much the only thing original to the structure is the turret. ALL the others windows and dormers and door are, almost certainly, later additions. But why a turret rather than tower?… Continue Reading

An Oval Mystery

  Why does the oval window angle in???????? Have you ever seen that before? VERY weird! And of course I love this eccentric detail! When I purchased the house in 2014 the bath had been totally gutted. Today, the white quartz slabs are sitting in the dining room. The previous owner had all the trim… Continue Reading

More Colorful Windows!

The Cross House has an amazing 42 stained-glass windows. They are the glory of the house. And they were all falling apart. The Kansas Heritage Grant awarded to the house in 2015 allowed the restoration of 3/4 of the windows, and this work is now completed. A second Heritage Grant, awarded this year, will complete… Continue Reading

A Picture Rail Curiosity

  That is the original location of the lost rail. But it looks really odd. I mean, it is HIGHER than the horizontal door trim. Bo commented on this during his recent visit, and I had previously wondered about the same thing. But I never had a piece of picture rail on the wall to… Continue Reading

A Hardware Curiosity

  These odd bits are only on some windows. The diamond-paned pantry windows, for example, each has one such bit, at the bottom, right side window casing. So, one bit per window. What are they for?     Continue Reading

A Hardware Discovery

      Number 14 would, I assume, correspond to an identical tack on a storm/screen window. Thus the zillion storm/screen windows for the house (all long gone) could be easily found for the correct windows. “I need #6!” “I need #14!” “I need #36!” Cool. I have only recently started coming across such tacks.… Continue Reading

Introducing Social Media

    New! Improved! Now, at the bottom of each post, are social media buttons! You can email a post to somebody. Or put it on Facebook. Or Pinterest. Or even to other buttons of which I have no idea of. So, I am hip now! But only a bit.     Continue Reading

Discovery #8!!!!!!!!

Last summer, when restoring the window frame of the triple-arched windows on the Great North Wall, I found a odd piece of trim, vertical, poorly tacked onto the window frame. The piece was only half intact. I had no idea why it was there, and assumed it was stuck on well after the house was… Continue Reading

Fire Escape…Gone Missing

        The fire escape was a beautiful piece of industrial art. Solid, and nicely detailed in an industrial way. It also allowed good emergency egress from the top floor. It was both thrilling and terrifying climbing it. It just kept going up and up and up. And SO narrow. One clutched onto… Continue Reading

To plaster? Or not to? THAT is the question.

When I purchased the Cross House in 2014, every room looked like a bomb had gone off in it. There were holes in all the plaster walls and ceilings. Some plaster walls and ceilings were missing entirely, like the library, which was 95% bare studs. I sheetrocked the library, and sheetrocked over the heavily damaged… Continue Reading

More Railing!

I have implemented a new regime: Every day I have to do at least 15 minutes worth of work getting the damn railings for the front porch installed. A while back I got one section installed. Then… Then… Then… Nothing more. This is inexplicable as I am dying to get the railings installed. And I… Continue Reading

Formalizing Tours

    I get a lot of requests for tours of the Cross House. And I have given a lot of tours. The briefest tour was to a woman who just stopped by. Within five minutes I could see she was not actually interested. I suspected that she had assumed a beautifully restored/furnished Victorian-era mansion.… Continue Reading

Reversing Time

          In a week or so the lower sashes will be restored, then all four sashes will be reinstalled in the big gable, and time will have…reversed. I AM LIVING FOR THE DAY!     Continue Reading

More Railing! And A Tantalizing Alert!

    After the railings are all installed, I need to repair the porch flooring (not hard or $$$), and then get the damn lattice made (really hard and really $$$). Doug, who made the straight lattice for the north porch, has been VERY mean in his unwillingness to make curved lattice for free. I… Continue Reading

Color Arrives at the Cross House

  Above the painted area will be a burnished gold picture rail. Above that will be a stenciled frieze. The ceiling will have different stenciled patterns. Even with just this one corner painted it is obvious how much better the woodwork looks, and stained-glass. I am excited!     Continue Reading

Thoughts on Decorating

To me, decorating is like playing 3-dimensional chess. Every decision impacts on every other decision. And I long ago learned that the last 10% can pull together the previous 90%. What can look horrible when almost done…can suddenly transform into fuckin’ brilliant when totally done. I have seen this time and time again. In the… Continue Reading

Lovin’ Diamonds

          The sashes are now bare wood inside. I do not know what the original finish was, but the adjacent trim will be sent off for a color analysis, and this will guide me in finishing the sashes. Were they painted? Varnished? It will be fun learning what! Restoring the windows… Continue Reading

Harold. As Santa Claus. In April

Previously, I wrote about Harold and Wilma, two of the most fabulous people I have ever known. After buying the Cross House I was eager for them to come and visit for I knew they would adore the house and that the three of us would be like kids let loose in a candy story.… Continue Reading

The Cross House. UNDER ATTACK!

  On Saturday, I gave a tour to Harold, his friends, and his daughter, Anita. When we reached the third floor (one huge open room) I saw something sitting on the otherwise pristine floor. Huh? I bent down. And my heart sank. Shit. Oh shit. Damn fuck shit. Because that small something on the floor… Continue Reading

Harold: Santa Claus SUPERHERO

When I purchased the Cross House in 2014, I had no idea it was laced with speaking tubes. Discovering this brought back a flood of memories about my beloved Aunt Mabel, who died when I was six. I wrote about speaking tubes and my Aunt previously. If you missed the post I think you will… Continue Reading

Fretting over Picture Rail

Who would think that fretting over picture rail was even possible? But ever since the Bo visit I have been doing just that. Sigh.             Oh! What to do? What to do! Can you hear me wringing my hands?     Continue Reading


          I am using metallic paints, so when you walk through the room the stencils shimmer against the flat walls. The darker colors also change color as you walk through the room as they refract light differently. This is really gorgeous in person. After doing three, I stopped. I am T… Continue Reading


    So….I should be happy, right? Nope! While I wanted faded stencils, now that I look back/forth between the two images I think I prefer the “unfaded” version! Yep, I am a nut! I may feel differently tomorrow. Some new supplies/colors have been ordered (gold! Blue!) but will not arrive for a week, so… Continue Reading

I N V A D E R S!!!!!!!!

DATELINE: Tuesday I was able to successfully block up a yawning opening in the attic of the tower, an opening which squirrels had been using forever.   DATELINE: Wednesday I tip-toed up to the top floor, tip-toed over to the tower, and then made a lot of noise. Silence was my reward. There was NO… Continue Reading

I N V A D E R S (update)

I did not sleep well last night. Over and over I kept waking up. With a single thought: TRAPPED SQUIRRELS! No matter how much I tried I could only think of one thing: In my beloved Cross House I had, inadvertently, trapped at least three creatures. Three increasingly panicked and terrified and hungry and thirsty… Continue Reading

Screaming about Kitchens

I would like to vent. And beg your indulgence. You see, I want to scream every time I see a fabulous old kitchen torn out. This is usually done for two reasons: Owner wants a modern kitchen. Owner wants a period-correct kitchen. And here is what bugs me: Both are, 99.9% of the time, the… Continue Reading

More Windows!

            It is hard capturing the restored windows in an image but as one walks around the property they are highly evident, glittering in the light. Me delighted.       Continue Reading

OOPS. (Or No Oops.)

        OOPS. This is my fault as, after the stained-glass was restored, I am the one who set the glass into the wood sashes and glazed them. Oddly, I think I like them better upside-down!   WILD & CRAZY UPDATE! Just after writing the above, I looked again at the lower sashes.… Continue Reading

Stencilling…A Series of Shots

          I am using six colors: Copper (metallic) Dark gold (metallic) Silver (metallic) Blue Pearl Pale gold The metallic colors shimmer and change as one takes a promenade* around the room. The effect is striking. Once the whole room is stenciled this effect should be kinda amazing. Next week I will… Continue Reading

Stencilling…off a cliff.

  And my response to the finished frieze? I LOATHE IT. But I was not sure why. So I sent the above picture to Patricia in New Jersey and asked her opinion. “Can I be honest?” she asked. “”Please!” “I LOATHE IT.” Oh. Patricia instantly zeroed in on the problem. It was not the colors… Continue Reading

Magically Making Molding Magnifique

    I cannot ever recall a more Presto! improvement. One coat, which dried very quickly, and I was done. The base looks fabulous! I am so excited! Tonight, when I go to bed, I think I will use some amber shellac as a face moisturizer…   Continue Reading


  It was common for rooms in a Victorian-era home to have: A wall paper A frieze paper, normally 20-inches high. [A Bo Sullivan update: “common friezes were 18″, and only the better ones were 20”. Thanks, Bo!] A ceiling paper. In the 1894 Cross House, the 2-story stair-hall has fragments of all three such… Continue Reading

The Vines Have Arrived!

  All the picture rail in the Cross House has been missing since, I think, 1950. After having purchased new picture rail, I thought I was good to go! Then Bo arrived. And I was astonished to learn that there was more to learn about picture rail than seemed possible, and I did a post… Continue Reading

In Praise of the Precise Line

Anybody who has ever restored an old house will know of what I speak: the imprecise line. Few things are worse. For, no matter how beautiful the colors of your walls, no matter how luscious your draperies are, or no matter how artfully designed your decor is, imprecise lines will ruin everything. And what the… Continue Reading

Luscious Bo

This morning I died and went to heaven. And it is all Bo’s fault. He sent me a link to his wallpaper website, which I have not looked at in some time. Normally, I add a URL link to Bo’s main website when I mention him. But Bo has a separate website for his vintage… Continue Reading

More Colorful Windows!

    After each stained-glass panel is restored by Hoefer Stained Glass, the wood sash itself requires restoration and glazing. So, there is always a lag between when the stained-glass panels return to the house, and their reinstallation. This is the second reinstalled stained-glass window in the dining room. Currently being worked on are the… Continue Reading

Doing Things Backwards

    That nut would be me. Sigh. The ceiling was actually finished and primed over a year ago. Then I decided to resurrect the gas/electric sconces and had to pull some wires, necessitating punching a hole in the ceiling/wall (the patch to the lower right). Then I decided NOT to install ceiling fans to… Continue Reading

Obsessing over Picture Rail

  All the picture rail in the Cross House was removed, I think, in 1950. There was never any question that I would recreate this feature. I found some large-scale picture rail, ordered it, and was quite excited when it arrived. Then, after talking with Bo, I realized that I had…was really boring picture rail.… Continue Reading

New…I N V A D E R S

Recently, I did two posts about being invaded by squirrels. The adventure was exhausting. Just when I thought the damn creatures were gone, they would make a mockery of my assumptions. One day, after opening the outer front door, I unlocked the inner door, opened it, and…stopped. A squirrel was standing in the foyer looking… Continue Reading

My TV Fantasy

About once a year I get contacted by a production company. Would I be interested in having the restoration of the Cross House become a TV show? My first thought: Sure! My second thought: Hell no! The second thought is generated by two things: I know a couple who actually worked with a production crew.… Continue Reading

Pondering the Dining Room

I have been pondering the dining room. The parlor and library are kinda close to being done. So, maybe the dining room next? Perhaps I should do the room in period-correct papers? A wall paper, a frieze paper, and ceiling paper. So, I sent some inquiries to Bo. And he replied with some mighty tantalizing… Continue Reading

A Teasing Post

I have done a lot of posts about decorating the parlor. Then the posts stopped. This is because I had an epiphany, and…eek…started making some significant changes to the room. You will be shocked. Hell, I am shocked. But yesterday I sat in the revamped room and was filled head-to-toe with joy and pleasure. The… Continue Reading

Mea Culpa

This morning I did a post which…made y’all mad! Mad! I just felt crushed. I felt terrible. I felt devastated. It was not my intention to cause anguish. I just wanted to let everybody know why updates on the parlor had ceased. So, to make amends, rather than a Big Reveal next week, I will… Continue Reading

The O C U L U S

          The conceit is that the lightning shattered the ceiling. It’s OK if I am the only one who sees that! Finishing the oculus, and rehanging the incredible period-correct gas/electric chandelier, makes a dramatic difference in the room. The cracked glass ceiling effect, which dominated yesterday, instantly became a background element… Continue Reading

Lusting over Picture Rail

A few months ago, during the memorable Bo Visit, everything I knew about picture rail was turned on its head, and I did a post about this new reality. In short, I learned: Picture rail, at least during the 1890s, was not necessarily installed by the finish carpenters but rather by wallpaper hangers. Picture rail… Continue Reading


  Restoring an old house requires a lot of tools. So, having power tools and screws and a caulk gun and ladders are musts. But there are some things often overlooked but which I consider essentials.               Continue Reading

What? Me? Obsessing?

  Ross pondered. Ross fretted. Ross worried. Ross came up with a dozen potential solutions to this epic problem. Yes, yes, the world may be going to Hell but, damn, not until the Cross House parlor was the best it could be. So, Ross continued ponderingfretting&worrying. Then a light bulb went off.      … Continue Reading

Intention & Desire

When the Cross House was finished in 1894 it was common for rooms to have: A pattern on the floor (either elaborate wood designs, wall-to-wall carpeting, or area rugs), Patterned wallpaper. A frieze paper with a pattern A ceiling paper with a pattern In addition, curtains and sofas and chairs and pillows would also have… Continue Reading

Wanna See The SE Corner?

For the last two months I have posted many updates on the completion of the parlor in the 1894 Cross House. But the south-east corner, the corner with the mantel and over-mantel, has been conspicuously absent from these many posts. This is because there were big holes in the SE corner, created to snake in… Continue Reading

A Petite Reveal

                  Somewhere, in the back of mind, a thought was lazily floating about as I wrestled with the radiator: WHY are you doing this? You are SIXTY! SIXTY!  STOP THE MADNESS! But…what was pain, what was sweat-soaked agony, when this…         With the floor… Continue Reading

Who IS She?

  This confused readers. Huh? What? For, it seemed that most people did not recognize the woman in the image. Oh. And, without context what I wrote would, yes, make no sense. Sorry. Sorry!     I chose this portrait as the central focus of the parlor for several reasons. When the Cross House was… Continue Reading

…and More!

              There are still things to do (like installing electric outlets), and a few more pictures to hang. But the parlor is now about 95% complete. And I am thrilled ecstatic joyful but…I am also exhausted. The work took WAY longer than I ever expected and, rather than take… Continue Reading

Collecting My Thoughts. At Length!

  ADVISORY: This is a long post. Wine may be required.         When I purchased the Cross House in March, 2014, I had very little idea of how a parlor in the Victorian-era was decorated. So, I began to research. I also worked to understand the Cross House and uncover whatever secrets… Continue Reading

Do You Know Anything About Victorian Glassware?

    It seems like a pair of tall vases could sit right/left on the mantel itself. Then two more glass whatevers on the upper shelves (soooooo cute!). Then note under the mantel; there is an inset shelf. So more glass whatevers could sit there; short whatevers. But I know nothing about Victorian-era glass. Zip.… Continue Reading

Psychological Idiocy

I can restore a house from top to bottom. And even a wreck of a big ol’ house don’t scare me. But some things, normally small things, can stop me in my tracks. Years ago I learned that when a paint roller cover needed washing I would become paralyzed. I mean, I would paint a… Continue Reading

The White House comes to the Cross House

  In 2015, I wrote the following. It is, I think, the post I am most proud of:   History fascinates me. It always has. In studying the history of America, one dynamic is obvious: America has been struggling since its creation to manifest the intentions of its founding fathers. In the Constitution, it is… Continue Reading

A Bed in the Parlor???????

If you look through an 1890s furniture catalog you will find that it abounds with ads for…vanishing beds. These are beds which, during the day, looked like an ordinary piece of furniture. Like a low armoire. But they would wondrously unfold to reveal a bed. In an age when people had a lot of children,… Continue Reading

A Grilling Question

Often, I write about being protective of the historical narrative of the 1894 Cross House. By this I mean that people should not walk through the house wondering what is original and what is not. I want this to be instantly obvious. To this end I also want a distinction between what is period-correct to… Continue Reading

Why I love Justin

    Last year, I had the AC condensers removed, and stored off-site, in anticipation of their being relocated. My anti-blight measure. At the time however I had no idea that over a year would pass, and the house would have no AC during the summer of 2016 and, it seemed, the summer of 2017.… Continue Reading

Classic Black

      Black-painted sashes were the norm for a long time. Then, somewhere along the way, certainly after WWII, white became the new norm, and this color choice is now entrenched. But if you have an old house I hope you will consider going black. I love my sashes in black.   Continue Reading

Wanna See My Cool Grilles?

Last week I did a post about replacing the cheap AC floor grilles in the parlor. I wanted to avoid confusing the all-important historical narrative so grilles which were distinctly modern (and high quality) was my aim. I fell in love with grilles made by Kul (pronounced cool) but not a single reader liked them!… Continue Reading

Being Agog With Base Shoe Molding

Base shoe molding is that little strip of molding at the bottom of your base. It is intended to fill the gap between floor and base. Most of the shoe base in my parlor was missing, and what remained broke apart when removed. It tends to do that. So, I knew I would have to… Continue Reading

Kenny Brings…A Gift!

So, I got an email from Kenny: “I have a gift that you might like for the parlor.” Oh! I met Kenny last year when he came by from Kansas City for a tour of the Cross House. We have been in touch a bit since and I looked forward to seeing Kenny again, gifts notwithstanding.… Continue Reading

Up & Down. Up & Down. Up & Down.

Arrive at Cross House. Temperature: High.   UP Ascend to top floor, crawl though small window and out to scary-high scaffolding. Struggle into disposable Tyvek suit and sand wood trim and shingles to smooth perfection. Task complete. Peel suit off from dripping wet body. Struggle to not collapse and fall off scary-high scaffolding. Struggle back… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Vanished Neighbor?

Today I woke to an email from young Brian. He found an image of my long long long lost neighbor, directly across the street to the west. The historical society has no images of the house so it has been something of a mystery.           So, points for Brian!!!!!!!!    … Continue Reading

Looking For Mr. Squires in 2017

    The architect of the Cross House was Charles Wesley Squires, who lived a block away, and designed an astonishing 2,700 structures, and more in Emporia than any other architect. When I purchased the Cross House in 2014 I had never heard of Squires. Today, I adore the man. His work all exhibits a… Continue Reading

Wanna Peek?

      I did get some of the huge curved cornice grinded down to bare metal but I felt like I was being roasted by the sun and heat in the full Tyvek suit, the industrial fan notwithstanding. I gave up, came home early, and took a delicious nap with the AC on arctic.… Continue Reading

Repairing A Continuity Mess

Last year I discovered that I was not painting the exterior of the Cross House in its original colors, as I had supposed. Oops. It developed that while I did get the olive green trim color right, I was painting the walls the second color the house had been painted with. The first wall color… Continue Reading

The Indispensable Tool

Stewart asked what was this “grinder” thingy I was using on the exterior of the Cross House?     Properly, it is a disk sander. I call it a grinder because I was introduced to the tool by somebody who called it that. It is, I find, indispensable and cannot imagine how much harder it… Continue Reading

A Leafy Timeline

        Last year I had the two trees to the right severely pruned. Each had developed Y-shaped trunks, and these would have split in two during an ice storm. After pruning, the trees looked kinda lopsided but this year they are looking good! The trees were planted by the previous owner, Bob… Continue Reading

What to do? WHAT to do?

        Well, I have no idea how to make the upper band right. So, brilliant ideas invited! One option not Photoshopped is to JUST paint the swags green. This seems like a good idea but would be stylistically at odds with how all the other decorative stamped tin flourishes are treated (green,… Continue Reading


So, I got up at 5AM this morning, breathless to paint the swags on the tower. Would this solution work???????? When I arrived at the Cross House at the crack of dawn, I had no idea how to reach the swags. My ladder is not tall enough. Still, I was desperate. MUST SEE SWAGS GREEN!… Continue Reading