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.
This image thrills me. You see, the doors just came back from the Door Hospital. They underwent a veneer repair, sanding, staining, and refinishing. I was terrified that they would not survive the anesthetic. But they are back! And GORGEOUS! Thank you, Dr. Doug!!!!! The Cross House has two sets of entry doors. This…Continue Reading
While I have zero statistical data to back up the following, I am pretty sure it is a known truth: Old houses can kill. There have been countless couples and singles who have enthusiastically purchased a wreck of an old home, started with gusto…and then…lost their minds. Marriages are destroyed by old houses. People are…Continue Reading
I have an deeply-held belief system with regards to old houses: 1) One needs to expect structural issues. 2) As long as you discover SIX or less structural issues, you are lucky. All is well. The Gods have blessed you. 3) If however you find SEVEN, give the house back to the previous owner. And RUN…Continue Reading
In order to restore the windows at the Cross House it is necessary to remove them for long-ish periods. A good chunk of this time is waiting for the glazing to dry enough to paint. So, the house ends up with plexiglass covering the openings, which rather kills the beauty of the house. So, behold,…Continue Reading
Recently, we took down the forest of scaffolding surrounding the round tower. Whoee! This week we put up scaffolding so I could paint the dormer window, and one side of the octagon tower. Whoee! So, bit by bit, the original colors are returning to the Cross House. NOTE: I am much happier standing on a…Continue Reading
One of the single biggest impediments to owning a big old house — perhaps THE biggest — is heating and cooling. Basically, in a big old house you will never be warm in the winter or cool in the summer. And even trying will cost a terrifying amount. Geez. Because I am quite fond of…Continue Reading
Here in Kansas it is possible to paint the exterior of your house all through to the end of December. CAVEAT: just not every day. It becomes kinda hit or miss these two months. Once I had 70 degree weather between Christmas and New Years. So, I removed the exterior wall in my kitchen — sure,…Continue Reading
For the holiday season I created a three-story Christmas “tree” at the Cross House. To repeat: three-stories high. It is BIG. And it makes me smile. I wanted to do something for my first holiday season in the Cross House. But what? The house is so huge and the possibilities are endless. Obviously,…Continue Reading
I love scaffolding. I admit it. Some people love ladders. Some people love boom lifts. I love scaffolding. You see, ladders are all about up/down and up/down and up/down. A day of this at my age is tough. You can also only work a small area at a time before having to move the ladder….Continue Reading
THE PAST When I was a wee one in the 1960s, my parents would take us kids (there were four) to visit Aunt Mabel, who was sweet, generous with a kind word, never lectured, and always gave each of us kids a whole dollar (back when a dollar could actually buy something). Aunt Mabel was also…Continue Reading
When the Cross House was built in 1894 it was state of the art. Today, it would be like having a home built wholly wireless and with LEED green certification. In 1894 this meant: 1) Both gas and electric lighting. The former was a proven technology; the latter was new and unproven. Hence, being modern…Continue Reading
Most of the west facade has now been repainted in the original colors. An 1895 image guided me as to WHAT colors went WHERE (along with paint scrapes), and also confirmed that the distinctive huge curved cornices were originally painted all one color, including the dramatic stamped tin swirls. The…Continue Reading
The interior of the Cross House was fully wallpapered when it was built. All this was pulled off in the 1950s, down to bare, never-painted plaster, and fully papered again. Poo. I wish I still had 120-years of paper on my walls — layers and layers of time. Today I was scraping the post-1950 papers from…Continue Reading
It was a year ago that I — damn fool that I am — decided to purchase the historic Cross House. All 8900 square feet. Yes, you read that right. And all 8900 square feet needed work. In my first post I articulated the reasoning behind the decision. If such a decision CAN be reasoned. I closed…Continue Reading
When one is working on on old house, one expects cracked plaster. No big deal. You repair the damage and go on. This weekend I scraped the wallpaper off the walls in the living room. This had been done throughout the whole house in the 1950s, so I was dealing with post-WWII paper. Which had…Continue Reading
To everybody BUT me, the above is not a thing of great beauty or worthy of adoration. But I could not be more excited! This is one of my new downspouts!!!!!!! And look! WATER is coming out of it! WATER!!!!!!! You see, the Cross House has not had downspouts for a very very very long…Continue Reading
THE TIME: 1973. MY AGE: A pup of sixteen. THE PLACE: A wallpaper store in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. THE SCENE: My mom and I had made numerous trips to the store, and there was one paper we yearned for. It was by Van Luit and featured peacock feathers. We looooooooooved the paper but it…Continue Reading
When completed in 1894, the Cross House was elegantly finished, and fully wallpapered (including the ceilings). When the house was converted into a motel in 1950, I was told that all the wallpaper was removed (along with, it seems, all the original lighting), and the walls and ceilings re-papered. When the previous owner purchased the house…Continue Reading
Today I had a real thrill. There are two radiators in the living room. It seemed like a good idea if they were temporarily removed so we could: Scrape off the old wallpaper behind them Repair the plaster as required. Repaint or re-wallpaper. Refinish the floors under. And so it was done. Behind the radiators…Continue Reading
ABOVE: The living room of the Cross House, December, 2014. I always thought it odd that none of the rooms in the Cross House had a picture rail. Wasn’t this de rigueur for houses of the period? I mean, punching a nail in plaster walls to hang a picture was simply not done! One respected laboriously…Continue Reading