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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  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 #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

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

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

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

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

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

…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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

A Discovery! A Mystery! A Supposition!

A DISCOVERY! In the 1960s it seems that the Tom 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                                  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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  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

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

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

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. 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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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 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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


      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

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

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

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

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


I have done a number of posts about the finial to the turret of the Cross House. For 122-years it was a dramatic punctuation mark atop the pointy roof. For 122-years it endured rain and sleet and storms and heat and hail and birds pooping on it. And after 122-years, it needed some attention. So,… Continue Reading

A Porch Floor…maybe.

    This got me to thinking. The original floor was ABOVE the oak/pine flooring, but was removed at some point. And I now think that the original porch flooring was the pine. This was roughly removed, it appears, and bits and pieces of it fell down to the ceiling below. Most of it though… Continue Reading

A Porch Floor…again.

A week ago, I had no plans to remove the non-original flooring on the second-floor porch. Then because I needed to do some other work on the house, on thing led to another, and I was surprised that the porch floor suddenly became A Current Project. All old house owners know of this phenomenon. A… Continue Reading

Gray. Then Blue.

      To me, cleaning up a mess is powerful. I cannot prove the following, but nonetheless deeply believe in what I write. These thoughts are difficult to put into words, and right now I wish I were a poet. When the mess above was cleaned up, somehow, somehow, this changed the energy of… Continue Reading

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Last February I did a post about the miraculous resurrection of the triple arched stained-glass windows on the second-floor landing. If you did not read that post, you really really really need to. I will have a glass of wine in the meantime… … … … OK! Cool, right? So, while the stained-glass was restored,… Continue Reading

A Door to the Past

  At some point, either likely 1929 or 1950, the east window facing the porch was transformed into a door when the porch was enclosed. The porch floor (as I just discovered) was about 6-inches ABOVE the sewing room floor. This floor was removed, and a new floor installed continuous with the sewing room (as seen… Continue Reading

A Porch Floor Mystery!

I previously did a post on the second-floor porch of the Cross House. It’s a really interesting post, and you might want to detour and read it. At some point the porch was enclosed, but the previous owner of the house, Bob Rodak, removed these alterations, and infilled the huge, original arched openings with solid sheets… Continue Reading

A Miracle on Union Street

        …no water drained out of its downspout, either (over to the left; not pictured). We we all baffled by this, but much sleuthing by Justin revealed that a 1-1/2-inch sag was the problem. The sag was where a very TALL wood column had been, a very rotted tall column. This was… Continue Reading


      Because the Tyvek suit does not breathe, in this heat I am drenched in sweat when finished. I peel the suit off, and my clothes look like I just jumped into a swimming pool. So…not…fun. I can only do such work for an hour or so, and my brain is fried when… Continue Reading

Removing Scaffolding…Comedically

    I erected a five-level scaffolding so I could paint the Great North Wall. LEVEL ONE: The porch. LEVEL TWO: The roof of the porch. LEVEL THREE: Just under the triple-arched windows (not yet erected in the image). LEVEL FOUR: At the bottom of the main gable. LEVEL FIVE: At the bottom of the… Continue Reading

A Shimmering Rebirth

                                          There are three such windows, all in the octagon tower. An arched-topped window is also in the room. I am re-installing the panels in the BLAZING heat and direct sun, but geez, the results… Continue Reading

WF Norman Road Trip!

                                                    In about eight weeks my turret finial should be ready after its facelift, and my new octagon finial should also be ready. So, another road trip!       Continue Reading

Bringing the Dead Back to Life. Part II

              One panel though, as I had it in my hands, and was standing on the ladder, split in two. I FREAKED OUT. Small pieces instantly started falling away. I instinctively grabbed at the panel like one would a baby falling, just pulled everything tight to my chest, and… Continue Reading

The Danger of Leaving Pretty Things Out in the Rain

    When new, the house did not appear to have hardly any downspouts. Almost all the gutters fed into each other. So, the turret gutter drains into the north gutter, which wraps around the house to become the east gutter, which wraps around the house to become the south gutter. Only then was there… Continue Reading

Repairing a Roof Finial. Part II

  Recently, I did a post about repairing the turret finial. I could just paint the finial and put it back in place. I could. But just can’t. So I asked Mark from WF Norman to give me a quote on repairing the egregious issues. Today he got back with me. About $1200. Gulp. Mark… Continue Reading

What Price Beauty?

The previous owner of the Cross House stripped the exterior of paint. This was a factor which weighed heavily in my buying the house. As I continue painting the Great North Wall, I find that there is more old paint than I encountered on the Great West Wall. This paint is like old scabs on… Continue Reading

Repairing a Roof Finial

              Mark wrote: “We have to make sure your old finial is structurally sound enough to go back up on the roof. Sometimes these old finials are held together by much more than their last paint job.” I replied that the finial seems quite sound, actually. It has an interior… Continue Reading

A Nefarious Theft at the Cross House!

        (It is possible that none of the above is true. Perhaps Kelly from Old House Dreams graciously participated in this silliness, and photoshopped my finial on Amy’s house. Amy, and her husband, Doug, have their own blog about their own fabulous old house. The above image does NOT reflect how their… Continue Reading


Yesterday, I did a post about the intergalactic transmitter on top of the Cross House turret. Would you like to se it up close?           My plan was to clean up the transmitter, repair what I can, paint it, and then have it reinstalled. One cannot really see all the issues… Continue Reading

Aliens Attack the Cross House!

      It is obvious what happened. ALIENS FROM THE PLANET ZOT TOOK IT! Wow! Right, I know! I have long suspected that the finial was, in actuality, an intergalactic transmitter. And I now realize that it must have stopped working (a broken krypton fuse?), so the Zot aliens must have taken it to… Continue Reading

Drat! No Pipe!

    But, as I now know, there is no evidence that there was ever a porch light at the Cross House. Of course, the previous owner, who did extensive work in the porch attic, could have removed such evidence, but I doubt this. So, it may be that the porch had no lighting. Most… Continue Reading

Painting a Historic House…Historically. PART VIII

After MUCH ado, I discovered that I was painting the Cross House wrong. I had been dedicated from day one in ascertaining the original 1894 colors, and recreating this palette. I thought I had. I had not. Sigh. No matter the recent discoveries, I plan to continue with the color palette I started using in… Continue Reading

Amy is MEAN!

Amy, and her husband, Doug, are restoring their own fabulous old house, and Amy sent me an email today. She had scored big time on Craigslist.     Even more incredibly, Amy intended to keep the vanity, rather then donate it to the Cross House! Can you believe it? I am quite vexed.*    … Continue Reading

The Mystery of the Triple Windows

            HOUSE DESIGN 101 In designing a house, architects learn a vital mantra: shed water. Every feature, every detail, should reflect this mantra. This mantra must be made manifest on even the smallest of details. For example, a porch railing. If the bottom rail is flat on top, IT WILL… Continue Reading

Traveling Back to 1894

    When the Cross House was built in 1894, it, too, had a context. In 1894 radiators were an extraordinary invention, and people would have come into the Cross House and breathlessly asked: “Can I see a radiator?” They would have marveled over these mighty steel creations and stood agape wondering how they could… Continue Reading

Painting a Historic House…Historically. PART VI

  DELICATE SENSIBILITIES ALERT: This post contains naughty words.   ACT I Last week I did a post about the shocking discovery of the original 1894 exterior wall color of the Cross House. Shocking because it was WAY different than the color I have been painting with for two years now. Shocking that I messed… Continue Reading

Breathless Updates!

Tomorrow, I am anticipating in the mail a chip of the original exterior wall color of the Cross House! I will then have this computer matched, and after much ado, will finally know exactly what the color was. I am breathless with anticipation and a tingly excitement! Today, Groh & Sons Roofers told me that they… Continue Reading

It’s Official: Ross is a Big Ding-Dong

So, the roofers are inching away at the Cross House. Last week they tore like five layers of roofing off the top of the octagon tower. I was preoccupied, and not paying attention. And when I did pay attention, it was too late.         So, why am I a ding-dong? Because when… Continue Reading

Painting a Historic House…Historically. PART V

OK! So, yesterday I did a post about how I was FREAKING OUT about the exterior wall color of the Cross House. I had received scientific confirmation about the original 1894 color. And this matched a Duron color chip: 8194 Capertree. (Duron was taken over by Sherwin-Williams years ago, but SW could match the color.)… Continue Reading

Painting a Historic House…Historically. PART IV

Yesterday, I did a post about the discovery of the original, confirmed exterior wall color of the Cross House. I was SO not happy with the results. SO not happy. Then Brandy commented, and stated that the sample Sherwin-Williams made up for me looked nothing like the color chip she found online. And Brandy was… Continue Reading

Painting a Historic House…Historically. PART III

Today started out…breathlessly. I woke, and walked to the computer with cereal bowl in hand. The computer was switched on. And there, there, was a response from Frank Welsh. My heart stopped. You see, I did a recent post on trying to ascertain the exact shade of exterior wall color for the Cross House. This… Continue Reading

Painting a Historic House…Historically. PART II

In a previous post I discussed my efforts to paint the 1894 Cross House in a historically accurate manner. From day one, I was curious as to what the original exterior colors were. However, this seemed an impossible question to answer as the previous owner had removed ALL the old exterior paint from the house.… Continue Reading

Good Ross vs. Evil Ross. The Epic Battle Continues…

Last August, I did a post about a titanic battle between Good Ross and Evil Ross. Before continuing this current post, I urge that you read the previous post, otherwise this new post will not have much meaning. I will have a sip of wine while you catch up….         OK! Finished with… Continue Reading

Zounds! A new Discovery! PART II.

          As I recreated the lost diamond windows on the west dormer, I will recreate the lost details on the north gable windows. I believe that such small details collectively help to make great old houses gorgeous old houses. All old houses, over time, lose bits and pieces of their original beauty. And… Continue Reading

Making Pocket Doors Work

I have done a series of posts about how to repair the pocket doors of the Cross House. There are three pairs of doors, and one WIDE door. Only one pair opened/closed smoothly, all the others were a tug-of-war. I am a deep believer in not having to do battle with my house, and like… Continue Reading

Painting a Historic House…Historically

                              It is rare that a historic home is repainted in its original colors. Most historic home owners go for a “painted lady” effect. And/or most owners select colors which they like. In a million years I would not have selected… Continue Reading

Getting Lincrusta Fever

  The rooms are: Three vestibules Receiving Room Grand Hall Telephone Closet South Hall Dining Room Most of the Lincrusta in intact. I have small areas with missing Lincrusta (the red lines in the above image). The two larger areas are in the dining room (where water damage over decades ruined a section about 4-feet… Continue Reading

A Lincrusta Puzzle!

            I have NO idea how to reattach all these bits, and am hoping to receive expert advice from you. I assume that I will have to lay out all the bits, on a HOT day, in the driveway so the bits can kinda melt back into a flat shape… Continue Reading

A Forest Grows…and Grows…at the Cross House

  I do not have a fear of heights, blessedly, but I freak out and get knobby knees and a quivering stomach if I am HIGH up on shaky scaffolding, and without railings. I just can’t do it. No way, man! Yesterday, before we finished the tippy-top level, I stood up there to see if… Continue Reading

Something New…!!!!!!!!

                                  The main roof is 1920s cementitious tiles. These tiles will last till the end of time, so I am leaving them in place. The new roofing was selected to complement the 1920s tiles, and paint colors. The new… Continue Reading


I recently did a post about adding a structural beam to the foyer/stairhall of the Cross House. This post will not make much sense without reading the previous post. UPDATE: The installation of the new beam is moving along!                     Continue Reading

Tuckpointing a Historic Chimney. HELP!

    At some point somebody thought it would be a good idea to paint the red brick…red. So, you are looking at red paint rather than red brick. Sigh. As a reader of Old House Journal since the 1970s (yes, I really am that old), I have known for decades the dangers of repointing,… Continue Reading

ZOUNDS! A day of discoveries!

Ok. I admit it. And even though it is kinda scary coming out with such an admission…I am going to go for it. Ok. Here I go. Really, I am ready to admit my secret. Really. Ok, I am taking a deep breath. Breathe. Breathe. Ok! Now, scroll way down…but prepare to be…shocked!    … Continue Reading

How to Create an 1894 Period-Correct Bathroom

                  I am years away from restoring the bathroom but am nonetheless interested in learning all I can about it, and all I can about what an 1894 bathroom would have looked like for a house of the style/quality of the Cross House. If I were to… Continue Reading

Sherlock Holmes in the Cross House

What a thrilling day! I am uncertain how the great adventure started, but Justin (the main contractor working on the Cross House) and I were walking through the house, going over various issues, when our discussion unexpectedly veered toward sleuthing. Don’t ya’ love it when that happens?   THE GREAT DINING ROOM DOOR MYSTERY For… Continue Reading

Making Pocket Doors Work. WHOEE!

          For two years I have been pondering how to make my beautiful pockets doors effortlessly open/close. Every time I tried, I would give up, frustrated. HOW was I ever going to get the doors right???????? Then Stephen, God love ’em, saved the day. For two years I worried that the… Continue Reading

ARGH! Making Pocket Doors Work. PLEASE STAND BY…

Whew. Saved! At least I hope! I sent my previous post on the subject to Stephen, who has an amazing website. His tagline: Practicing the lost art of maintenance and repair of pocket doors. Ahhh, THE man! Stephen replied to me today. I was THRILLED. He began: “Kudos to your blessed neurosis concerning the restoration of your… Continue Reading

ARGH! Making Pocket Doors Work.

The Cross House has three pairs of pocket doors: Between the foyer and parlor Between the parlor and library Between the stairhall and dining room There is also a single very wide door (like five-feet wide) upstairs between the main bedroom and sewing room. Only the dining room pair works well. All the others open/close,… Continue Reading

Vintage Catalogs: A Delicious Pleasure

In a previous post, Sharon commented, and graciously forwarded a link to online plumbing catalogs. Well, I have been astounded looking through these treasures! Thank you, Sharon!!!!!!! Then I realized that if I was having so much fun, so might you! So I decided to kinda transfer Sharon’s comment into this post. Sharon wrote: Ross,… Continue Reading

Ahhhhh! A period-correct faucet!

        Yesterday, it never occurred to me that the missing pantry faucets were likely of the gooseneck type. And of course this makes sense with the small, shallow sink. Thank you, magical Bo! Now, I am on the hunt for vintage gooseneck faucets!     Continue Reading

Damn! WHAT is a period-correct faucet????????

  Below are a bunch of single taps. All are from Bathroom Machineries. But are any period-correct to the Cross House? Oh, the vexation! The vexation!                 Who knew that simply trying to buy faucets could be so vexing? It belatedly occurs to me me that there might,… Continue Reading

Removing Alligators from the Cross House. PART II

Recently, I did a post about removing the old alligatored finish on the pair of beveled-glass inner entry doors of the Cross House. Under all the old, dark shellacked finish was a gorgeous and much lighter finish. Experience has shown me that the revealed finish was likely the original finish. Today, I surprised myself with a… Continue Reading

The Danger of Old Houses, and Fire

    There are many stories like these. Too many. It is for this reason that I do not allow a heat gun to be used on the Cross House. Never. Ever. EVER. And everybody working on the house knows this, too. It is the #1 RULE. Break it and you are fired. Sooooo fired!… Continue Reading


Recently I did a post about “discovering” the fabulous hardware of the Cross House. Although I had been aware of the hardware, and knew that it was incredible, I did not really understand just how incredible it was until recently. However, from Day One, I was highly aware that the first floor of the house… Continue Reading

Removing Alligators from the Cross House

          One of the things I most like about old house is the quality and beauty of everything, and this makes a huge difference in generating the gumption to get off my butt and restore the bits and pieces of an old house. Conversely, spending any time restoring a 1980s hollow-core… Continue Reading

About Restoring Ross

When I purchased the Cross House in March of 2014, I had a vague idea of doing a blog. Then in short order I was startled by the level of interest in the house, and realized that creating a blog needed to be pushed to the top of the To Do list. So, RestoringRoss went online… Continue Reading

UNeroding a Historic House

Recently I did a post about the mystery of the porch lights for the Cross House. In short, what is there now is not what was there originally. Oh, the horror! The horror! To correct this egregious historical injustice, I knew I had to remove the lighting sconces to each side of the front doors.… Continue Reading