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.

Inching Along. Royally.

  When one nails on a shingle, the nail goes into the upper part of the shingle, where it will be covered by the next layer of shingles. But somebody had just pounded a bunch of flat-head nails into these shingles. Oh, the horror. These, of course, had to go. While removing the nails however… Continue Reading


    On the bright side, most of the exterior is not like this. The previous owner, Bob Rodak, laboriously removed most of the paint on the house down to bare wood. Had this work not been done I would have NOT have purchased the house. The last thing I wanted or needed was an… Continue Reading


Today, Young Brian stopped by the Cross House. As we talked he commented something to effect that I was not doing as many posts as when the blog was new in 2014. This both startled and confused me. I replied: “I do at least five posts a week, and often more. I know of no… Continue Reading

Guess What I Did Today?

Today, I did something I have long wanted to to do. Something I have yearned to do. With an ever-increasing quiet desperation. Something that I fretted might never happen. Something which took on an aspect of impossibility. Well, can you guess what I did today? OK……………..I SAT IN THE PARLOR!!!!!!!! What? You are unimpressed? Oh!… Continue Reading

Inching Along

            I never realized till today that triple windows abound on the house. In addition to what is listed above, the main facade has triple windows on the second floor, triple windows in the dormer, and triple windows on the south gable (now altered).     Continue Reading

An…Unexpected Encounter

        WHAT was stuffed into the corner? It looked like a piece of steel wool. I imagined that it had been stuffed into the corner to stop an air leak. So I reached toward it to pluck it out. But…EEK!…it moved a bit. EEK! Instinctively, I pulled my hand back with alacrity.… Continue Reading

The Beauty of a Crispy House

                      There is great pleasure in making the Cross House pretty again. But, even more satisfying, is making the house crispy again. This effort, to me, makes an enormous difference in how the house is perceived. What had been, well, cruddy for many decades is… Continue Reading

Inching Along

      I felt quite victorious! Tomorrow I will finish everything at the current scafolldong level and then — whoee!!!!!!!! — I will be able to move down a level!         Continue Reading

An Unexpected…Departure

  HOW was I to paint that area? I fretted about this and worried about this and even had a nightmare about this (envisioning thousands of bats swarming upon me). YIKES! Ever since discovering the bat I have carefully peeked numerous times into its, ah, chamber of daytime rest, and there it was. Every damn… Continue Reading

Inching Along. Unhappily

  Above the curved windows are: Pairs of wood brackets needing attention. Curved stamped-tin panels needing attention. But these are hard to access because they are tucked behind the wood brackets. Triangles of bead-board ceiling also tucked behind the wood brackets and also needing attention. These are really hard to reach and are CAKED with… Continue Reading

Picture Rail MANIA!!!!!!!!

Today, I went to big city Wichita to visit my friend Carl, and stop by several antique stores. Carl owns an extraordinary 1908 house similar to the Cross House in terms of scale and WOW factor. I last visited Carl last year, and well before my knowledge of picture rail was vastly ramped up via… Continue Reading

Another Tick-Tock!

        The clock works (and chimes!) and has a year guarantee. Today, I set the clock in place, set the time, and hours later it had kept perfect time. I thrilled when it chimed! The price for this luscious treasure? $95. I know! $95! This seems absurd! Who knew that such treasures… Continue Reading

Inching Along

  The restored curved stained-glass is also now back in place. Per square-inch, the two curved corners have been THE most time-consuming on the entire house, and THE most draining. I feel victorious that they are now mostly done. The two left-side brackets are in good shape. The two on the right still need work,… Continue Reading

A Most Considerate Bat

I have done several posts about a bat being in my way. I even had a nightmare about the bat in my way. HOW was I going to restore the left curved corner with a damn bat in residence? Then a miracle happened. The very day I needed to begin on the left curved corner…the… Continue Reading

What A Cutie!

I have done a series of posts about…the bat. The bat has been elusive, nay, shy about being photographed. But today I was able to capture a glamour shot. Wanna see? Scroll way down…                                     I am highly… Continue Reading

Inching Along

      This stained-glass panel is the final one restored by Hoefer Stained Glass (thanks Scott and Eric!) as part of the 2015 Heritage Trust Fund grant. About 2/3 of the 42 stained glass windows in the Cross House were restored by Hoefer as part of the grant. The final 1/3 will be restored as… Continue Reading

Inching Along

        I slop paint on the glass with no concern to being neat. When the paint is dry, I take a 6-inch putty knife, rest it on the glass and against the glazing, and with a SHARP straight-edge razor, cut away the extraneous paint. The result is…perfection. And quick and easy, too!… Continue Reading

The Mystery of the Second Curb

        The mystery curb fascinates me. Why is it there? What purpose does it serve? Well, I love my mysterious curb. Since buying the house in 2014, I weekly weed-wack the curb to glorious visibility.     I read somewhere that Harrison Cross built the three houses next to the Cross House,… Continue Reading

After Much Ado…

                                                              The painted garlands look prefect. WHY didn’t I do this three years ago? The eye…looks better. I am not however 100% thrilled and am… Continue Reading

Wanna Be My Neighbor?

Two houses south of the 1894 Cross House is house built circa-1910, and at 510 Union. I suspect it was designed by architect Charles Squires, who also designed my house. 510 is now listed for sale! Originally, it was a one-family home but was long ago converted into three units: one in the basement, one… Continue Reading

Whaddya Think?

  Today I painted the eye green. It had been the wall color. But Ross is not 100% thrilled. I think what is needed is for the flat area surrounding the acanthus leaves to be painted the wall color. This way, the center will look like a elaborate brooch clipped onto the house. Love the… Continue Reading

Whaddya Think? UPDATE

    I think I do like this better. And now I wonder if the flat area between the wide outer ring, and the thin inner ring, should also be the wall color? Or would that start looking too cartoonish (my big fear)?       Continue Reading

Whaddya Think? UPDATE UPDATE

      I am fascinated by photo-shop! Wow. Wow! THANKS Melody! These images are incredibly helpful. For, I now know, thanks to Melody, that I do not want to proceed with image #3. This is too busy and veers dangerously close to my biggest fear: having the Cross House look cartoony. I am kinda… Continue Reading

And The Verdict Is…

Yesterday, thanks to Melody, we all got to enjoy looking at variations of the “eye” in the big gable of the Cross House. Should it be left all green? Should some wall color be added? Should more wall color be added? Oh! What to do? What to do! Y’all were all over the place! Some… Continue Reading

A Third Anniversary!

In August, 2014, I started this blog. And had no idea what I was getting myself into. When the blog went online I was told to expect around 500 views a month. “It’s just a blog about an old house in Kansas.” Well, I thought: 500 views? Whoee! As things developed however, this estimate proved…inaccurate.… Continue Reading

Before. After.

    Not everybody is happy though. Ross is not 100% about the eye being all green, and he is pondering options. Others think the “garland band” around the tower should be solid green. I, too, thought this would look good until Alex sent in a Photo-shop rendering…     A solid green band made… Continue Reading

Inching Along

      On the front of the house, I restored the double set of entry doors by using denatured alcohol. The process was more tedious than difficult, and the old shellac had come off easily. To my surprise though, and distress, denatured alcohol had no effect on the ancient cracked dark finish on the… Continue Reading

The Mystery of the Missing Fifth Color

I wonder what color #5 was? That is, if there ever was a color #5. But now I will likely never know.     For three-and-a-half-years, I have poured over the above image, working to glean details from its embodied historic moment in time. It was my great intention to recreate the original colors of… Continue Reading

ZD presents….WOW!

Today, I received an email from ZD (slightly modified for clarity): I’ve just recently come across this site and I’ve been binge reading it. Great stuff Ross! I did want to comment on the subject of the exterior colors. I think your scheme looks fantastic. However, as you mention, it’s just missing something. I can tell… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet Color #5?

  The more and more I get the exterior painted, the more and more I realize that I have been playing it too safe. I have been SO concerned about not having the house look like a painted lady that I have been…too conservative. In studying the 1895 image of the house I belatedly realized… Continue Reading

Inching Along…GADZOOKS!

Today is a day I have long awaited. For over three long years. During all this time I have been patient. Waiting. Just waiting. For the time. The time for beauty to emerge. (Really, I should get some sort of patience award.) Well, wanna see what I did today? Scroll way down…      … Continue Reading

Bad Ross Ponders Columns

  He changed the color of the columns. And it’s all Zac’s fault. Bad Ross. Bad Zac. Obviously a dangerous combination.     IT ALL BEGAN… Last week Zac introduced himself and astonished me with a gift of incredible photo-shopped images where he “repainted” the Cross House. This initiated a down-the-rabbit-hole kinda adventure, and my… Continue Reading

Porch Ceiling Colors. Wow.

Originally, the porch ceilings of the Cross House were a very pale olive. Very pale. Because I accidentally did not recreate the original colors of the house, my noble intentions notwithstanding, I feel a certain freedom concerning color choices for the four porch ceilings. Although I cannot explain why, I yearn for something…unexpected. Even kinda… Continue Reading

Dr. Seuss & the Cross House

Years ago I watched a documentary on Dr. Seuss. One part, in particular, fascinated me. Seuss labored over every word he wrote. He could spend a week on a single sentence. He could agonize over a comma. He would put in a word, ponder it for hours, and then remove it. He would stare and… Continue Reading


Are you sitting down? Is your seatbelt fastened? OK! I asked Zac to photo-shop several color ideas for me. This all seemed perfectly reasonable. Perfectly reasonable. Until I got the results. Are you sitting down? Is your seatbelt fastened? OK! Now, scroll way down…                      … Continue Reading

The Continuing Column Adventure

    This idea was a stroke of friggin’ genius! I love love love the results! I was uneasy with the green columns. So I painted two gold. Oops. That was so not the solution. But without the gold effort I would never have thought of the gloss idea. The change is subtle, and more… Continue Reading

Porch Ceiling. Part III

  I learned about this two years ago and was fascinated. Pink? Pink???????? But I never really thought about pink porch ceilings for the Cross House. I mean…pink? A few days ago however, my friend Patricia called and said she had a sudden insight. “I think you should do your porch ceiling in a kind… Continue Reading

Porch Ceiling. Part IV.

  Yesterday, I arrived at the Cross House. My mind was full of thoughts and I was thinking of the pressing things I needed to finish before the day ended I was not thinking about the porch ceiling. After getting out of my car, and walking towards the house, I looked up. And stopped in… Continue Reading

Before. After.

    TO DATE: Wide gable over porch steps recolored. Thanks, Eric! Porch ceiling painted coral. Thanks, Patricia! Column capitals painted the newly introduced color #5. Thanks, Zac! Most of the column bases painted color #5. Thanks, Zac! Pair column shafts above steps painted in high-gloss clear polyurethane. Thanks, well, me! Garland swags on upper… Continue Reading

Inching Along.

    Tomorrow, I plan to — hallelujah — remove the last of the scaffolding!!!!!!!! Then I need to paint the window sills, and finish the scrollwork!     Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Outdoor Rooms?

Is the Cross House the biggest Victorian-Era house ever built on such a small piece of land? I have often pondered the question. I mean, the size of the yard is absurdly small. The front yard is TINY. To the south? The driveway takes up all this. East? This is small, and currently parking. North?… Continue Reading

A Vivid Surprise

    …the stained-glass windows. They were MUCH more vivid. Huh? It took me a minute. Oh! The new coral porch ceiling! The light bouncing off it has hugely enhanced the colors in the stained-glass. An unintended but delightful surprise.     Continue Reading

Old-Fashioned Coolness?

The summer sun beats the Cross House. It scares me how hot some rooms get. So, I have been pondering an old-fashioned option, but one wholly correct for my 1894 house: canvas window awnings. Such awnings were ubiquitous before WWII but are rarely seen today.           I have been doing a… Continue Reading

And The Winner? GREEN!

  Well, today I painted one downspout…green (the one in the middle of the above picture). How does it look? Like why-did-I-spend-so-much-time-even-pondering-this-issue perfect. (NOTE: The downspout in question is short because it is a weird diameter and I have been unable to find the bit more required to bring it down to the ground.) When… Continue Reading

The Thin Black Line

    So, the battered wood bits had to go, and I needed something that would effortlessly round the corners. My solution? A black garden hose! I know! Friggin’ brilliant! Zac had suggested also painting black the bit of trim above the pinstripe but I may leave it alone. It’s upper edge is irregular and… Continue Reading

Making Mr. Squires Happy

  The newly painted column capitals have been bothering me. While I like them better in color #5, the light color does not offer enough shadow, so the wonderful details are lost. Also, and quite unnervingly, the capitals now appear to made of plastic. Oh, the horror. The column capitals are one of my favorite… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Capitals?

    The column capitals on the Cross House were custom-designed by architect Charles Squires, and hand-carved. Each is unique. The capitals are wonderfully eccentric, and oh how I would have loved to have been in the drafting room of Squires as he, certainly, smiled in satisfaction at the finished design. The Cross House capitals… Continue Reading


Since buying the Cross House 3-1/2-years ago, I have been eager to complete a particular project. Eager. Breathless with anticipation. Impatient! And today…today…victory! Wanna see? Scroll way down…                                                      … Continue Reading

Before. After.

  I had been thrilled with the coloring on the house. Then, after finishing most of the north front, too, the “canvas” was suddenly large enough to step back and really see the overall effect. And my heart sank a bit. The color scheme was lacking…vivacity. I poured over the 1895 black/white image and realized… Continue Reading

Proof That Ross Is Insane

  So…Ross wanted to paint the background of the five rectangles surrounding the swags on the tower. Ross wanted to paint the background in color #5, as suggest by Zac. Ross liked what Zac had photo-shopped. Ross then asked Justin and Scott to help him erect a mini-scaffolding. Ross thought, too, that a ladder atop… Continue Reading

Inching Along

    Yesterday, the newly painted scroll panels under the windows looked a bit adrift. Today though, the green trim at the bottom, and the subtle black pinstripe, added visual gravitas. And I do love gravitas.     Continue Reading

Adding More Vivacity

  Yesterday I: Painted the background of one tower swag in color #5. Ditto for the scroll backgrounds on the brooch (the triple upper windows). Painted black the arched trim above the triple widows. This helps to break up all the green. Painted a black pinstripe just below the scrollwork under the dining room windows.… Continue Reading

A Long Tale of Woe…With a Happy Ending.

Shortly after buying the Cross House, I lucked out on acquiring a very large George III-style dining table by Baker. The rooms in the house are huge, and normal-scaled furniture looks silly. After picking up the table, I placed it in the dining room; it was perfect. Shortly thereafter, I found a pair of George… Continue Reading

I HATE ROSS. A Guest Post.

  [Ross: I present this first guest post. By Doug.] I HATE ROSS And If You Are Painting A House You Secretly Do, Too. “I hate Ross.” There, I said it. You see, for third-four years I’ve lived in a 1902 George Barber-designed home listed on the National Register of Historic places. This summer I… Continue Reading

Inching Along

    See the curved dining room window? See the water table trim just above the foundation? I wholly rebuilt that, and finished painting it today. Previously, I added a black pinstripe just above the water table. Today, I taped its upper edge and repainted, creating a more precise edge. Mmmmmmmmmmmm, precise edges. I also… Continue Reading

Returning to the I’ll-Do-It-Later

When I began painting the exterior of the Cross House in the spring of 2014, I  “overlooked” certain aspects which needed more work than I could focus on at the time. I’ll do it later. One aspect was small pieces of trim above the column capitals. ALL of these needed attention. Some were missing. None… Continue Reading


    My plan for today was to prime and paint this last bit of the Great North Wall! My plan however was thwarted. For, see the siding under the window? Well, on the left side, I noticed that the bottom two feet of siding was loose where it met the vertical corner trim. No… Continue Reading

Inching Along

      I finished repairs to the rotted lower left corner, and reinstalled the original siding. Sounds easy, right? Alas, no. Each piece of removed siding sat in a stack, so I could put each piece back in the right order, bottom to top. But first I had to (I had to!) disk sand… Continue Reading

Inching Along. With Excitement.

  I removed the porch railing many months ago and it has taken some effort getting it restored. But I have been breathless about its return. Well, today I was able to reinstall it. Sorta kinda. Wanna see sorta kinda? Scroll way down…                        … Continue Reading

Inching Along. SQUEE!!!!!!!!

Today was the day. Today I finished a long-awaited task. Today I was able to stand back…and stare in wonder and appreciation and with much happiness. Today. Wanna see? Scroll way down…                                               Continue Reading

Inching Along in a ZOUNDS-like Way

                                            The lattice will be painted in color #5. It will have trim around the perimeter edges painted black. The flat frame will be green. Even unpainted and unfinished it still looks SO much… Continue Reading

Inching Along. Wild & Crazy!

              My mind says: If you paint the background of the curved scrollwork in color #5, you should do the same on the wide scrolled panel above the big window. My eye says: No, What you did today is unorthodox but it works. Trust the eye! Trust the eye!… Continue Reading

Inching Along. OOPS.

    Yesterday the top-most horizontal board on the lattice was too wide. And the bottom horizontal board kinda vanished. Today, I took everything apart and redid it. Argh! But I like the proportions of the trim boards better. NOTE: The lattice itself will receive some trim around its perimeter. This will cover the small… Continue Reading

A Bat. In the Parlor.

On Thursday I drove to Kansas City to buy lots-o-bread. And I, of course, had to stop by my friend Susi’s house! Susi is an artist and works in a variety of mediums.             Continue Reading

Paper Chiroptera?

While pondering bats (chiroptera) I thought: Does bat wallpaper exist? Why, yes…     What I love about the above paper is that it, at a glance, looks quite traditional. Only closer examination reveals friggin’ bats flying all over the place! I would enjoy this at the Cross House. Perhaps my bathroom?     Continue Reading

Anchoring the Dining Room

          Normally, when plaster is in such poor condition, I replace it with sheetrock. But the Cross House rather insists that I step it up! Months ago I ordered two 5-gallon containers of pre-mixed plaster from Master of Plaster, This is a two coat process and when I am finished all… Continue Reading

Before. And a Golly After.

      Golly. Golly. Golly. Today I painted the lattice. It needs some touching-up still, and a thin black trim is going to be installed around the perimeter of the lattice. I also did a gloss finish on the column. And the never-ending door was finished. Squee!!!!!!!! I still have some other details to… Continue Reading

A Belated Terror

I should have done this post Halloween night. For, what you will see…will TERRIFY!                     The south facade will be an immense amount of work. More than another other facade. The direct south sun has just beaten all the wood pretty much to death, and missing… Continue Reading

Inching Along…EEK!

  It appears as though something was attached to the metal sill at some point. Something kinda heavy, which distorted the sill. But what? I have looked through the archival images and find no evidence of anything being attached to this location. My plan was to bonk the bottom edge of the drooped sill back… Continue Reading

AFTER Thanksgiving at the Cross House?

A few months ago I was talking with Justin. “Justin, the Cross House is SO something which is ideal for entertaining, and I would love to have a gala Thanksgiving dinner at the house as an annual event. But I have no family, and all my friends join their families that day. So, a good… Continue Reading

Adventures with Downspouts

Only after buying the Cross House did I become aware of the VITAL importance of good gutters and downspouts on a big old house. When I purchased the house it had but a single remaining downspout. Most of the gutters were filled with debris so water was just cascading over and, ominously, behind the gutters.… Continue Reading

Justin and Ross. S P A R T A C U S es

In 2015, Modern Air hauled a stunningly, shockingly heavy long & low radiator to the Cross House. It was perfect for the library, which was missing its original long & low radiator. I had the titanically heavy thing placed in the foyer because the library was not ready for it. The room need new flooring… Continue Reading

History Belatedly Revealed

          Golly. It surprises me that the house can continue to surprise me. So, it develops that while the flooring shows no evidence of such an alteration, the walls confirm that this alteration did, in fact, take place. I have aways wondered when the flooring was installed; 1929 (during the apartment… Continue Reading


I often get asked to take images of the Cross House at night so people can enjoy seeing the beauty of the stained-glass from a  nocturnal perspective. But, no matter how much I try, my camera has never been able to capture the beauty of the backlighted stained glass at night. The camera distorts, and… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet 1929?

In 1929, Scott Mouse, Sr., purchased the Cross House. He converted the second floor to apartments, and his family occupied a suite on the first floor. In 1950, his son, Scott, Jr., converted the house into the Mouse Palace Motel, and most of the apartment features were removed. By some amazing luck, the floor plan… Continue Reading

A Bit Of This. A Bit Of That. Breathlessly.

        When the radiators are installed, I can at last turn on the radiator system! Except I have no idea of how to do this. To me, this is akin to sitting in a helicopter and trying to figure out how to make it fly. While talking to Justin today about this… Continue Reading

The Danger of Wondering

I am focused on getting the house ready for the day-after Thanksgiving dinner. To this end it was necessary to clean out the main pantry. Easy! I also needed a bit of counter to put a microwave. Thus, I cleaned the pantry counter and then wondered… Oh dear. Wondering is ALWAYS bad when it comes… Continue Reading

Dismantling Aladdin’s Cave

In the vast basement of the Cross House, under the library, is the now-famous Aladdin’s Cave. The cave was stuffed with trim and windows and odd bits from the house which had fallen off over the decades or been removed. Since buying the house I have been steadily emptying the shelves in the cave as… Continue Reading

Finding…A TREASURE TROVE!!!!!!!!

Two years ago I realized that the Cross House still retained, at least by 1999, its original screen doors on the main entrance (a pair) and north entrance. What happened to them? I contacted the previous owner, Bob Rodak. He thought he might have them stored away. Well, squee!!!!!!!! Since then we have gone back/forth/back/forth/back/forth… Continue Reading

Putting The Bits Back

    LEFT: This goes to the basement. The actual door is not original to this location, and was moved from the butler’s pantry. I did a post about this discovery. MIDDLE: This goes upstairs. The actual door is original. RIGHT: The main pantry. The actual door is missing.            … Continue Reading

Paying Respects to Susan and Harrison Cross

                  There are four Cross family members buried in the family plot. Just four. And none have been interred since 1930. This seems profoundly….sad to me. I had expected Mary to be buried here as well, the only daughter of Charles and his first wife, Kate. Upon… Continue Reading

AFTER Thanksgiving at the Cross House UPDATE

On Friday, the Cross House, long empty of life, will be filled with people. Squee!!!!!!!! So far, I have 24 people coming for an after-Thanksgiving dinner. This is the list. PLEASE let me know if I have overlooked you: ONE: Sandra ONE: Justin FIVE: Grace and family TWO: Steve and Meade SIX: Dr. Doug and… Continue Reading

Happy Doors

    After the lost door was hung, I sat back with a silly grin on my face and just stared at the butler’s pantry door (squee!), the lost door (squee!), and the door to the second floor. So much remains to be done with restoring the doors to their original finish but, for now,… Continue Reading

Beauty in Basement Windows

In every old house I have ever owned, or restored for others, I have taken a special pride in creating beautiful basement windows. Such windows are normally overlooked, even in otherwise restored homes. But I love being in a basement and looking through clean, restored windows. It is an unexpected…pleasure. In the 1894 Cross House… Continue Reading

Belated Pictures!

I only took a few images of the day-after Thanksgiving dinner because I knew Scott would be taking images and video. I received these yesterday. Sadly, there is no overall images of all of us sitting down to dinner! If you attended, and took images, please send them to me! After spending 40 minutes trying… Continue Reading


Circa-1950, the Cross House was converted by Scott Mouse, Jr., into the Palace Motel. There were two motel rooms on the first floor, five on the second, and six in the basement. In the hot summers, in an age before air-conditioning was common, the latter rooms would have been sought after. There were also accommodations, dorm-style,… Continue Reading

An Unexpected Discovery

        But where was it from? Luckily, Bob Rodak came by the house today. Bob sold the house to me in 2014. So, I asked Bob about the short rail. “Do you remember where this was from?” Bob pondered a moment and replied: “I think…think…maybe the south exterior entrance?” After Bob left,… Continue Reading

The Lost Column

          The column was utterly devastated by a leaking gutter above. Many decades of water just ran down the column. I have repaired the gutter issue. At the moment I have no idea of how to recreate the column in its entirety but am confident that if people can be sent… Continue Reading

An EXTRAORDINARY and Mysterious Discovery!

      Huh? Why would anybody cut a large hole right at the foot of the stair???????? The hole was not original. And there is no trace of the hole today while standing on the first floor (the oak flooring on the first floor is circa-1950). Justin and I stood in the basement staring… Continue Reading

Can You Identify This Boiler?

  In my previous post I offered a lot of conjecture about the history of heating the Cross House. In 1999, Bob Rodak removed an ancient boiler:       Looking at the boiler I would date it circa-1950. Are there boiler experts out there? If so, how old do you think the boiler was?… Continue Reading

Coal for a Victorian-era House

When the Cross House was built in 1894 it would have had a coal-fed boiler for the radiator system, and a coal room. There were also eight coal-fed fireplaces. I just assumed that the boiler and coal room were in the basement, but over time I began to notice that the physical and historical evidence… Continue Reading

Take it off, baby! Take it ALL off!

The kitchen of the Cross House has two windows. There is a HUGE double window facing south. And a large single window facing east. Unlike almost all the other window sashes in house, the kitchen sashes are glopped with paint on the inside. Layers upon layers upon layers of paint. Ugh.       The… Continue Reading

Learning About the Dining Room.

The dining room of the Cross House has a lot of DARK brown trim. Experience however has taught me that what I am looking at is mostly old shellac, which turns brown over time. So, I have long wondered: WHAT was the original finish to the dining room?     The original faux-wood finish is… Continue Reading

An Existential Crisis About Hardware

Yesterday, I did a post about collecting all the un-attached hardware in the Cross House. This afternoon, I went all through the house trying to ascertain where all the un-attached bits went. I had a lot of fun. There were a lot of SQUEE moments! There were some perplexing moments, too. And there was a… Continue Reading

Putting Fabulous Back Into The Powder Room

  But this is not how the bathroom looked when I purchased the house in 2014. The previous owner, Bob, gutted it. And then, to repair termite damage, I gutted it some more. All the white quartz was removed and is now stored under the main stair. Bob had removed all the trim and stripped… Continue Reading

Gifts From Fairies

Today, while cleaning up the main floor bathroom, and then reinstalling all the trim which was removed over a decade ago, I made a startling, and wondrous, discovery. Scroll down…                                       And guess how many corner blocks… Continue Reading

OK. So…maybe NOT fairies.

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

The Most Gorgeous Sash Locks EVER!

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

Putting Fabulous Back Into The Main Bathroom

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

THE HUNT for Yale & Towne Austerlitz Pulls

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

The Niche…BEGINS!

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

Before. After.

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


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

A Lot Of Little Bits

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

The Worst Wall

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

An Eyebrow Scrape

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

Painting My Eyebrow Green

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

The Worst Wall…RENEWED

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

Beginning the Round Bedroom. And Other BIG Issues.

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

2017. The Year-End Update. THE HOUSE.

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

2017. The Year-End Update. THE ROSS.

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

Another Kitchen Window Restored

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

The Staircase

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

A Self-Reconstructing Pantry

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

A Born-Again Staircase

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

Gas/Electric Swivel Sconces! At Last!

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

The Grand Stair. Golly.

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

A Most Unexpected Visitor?

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

Radiators in 3, 2, 1…

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

A Kenny Resurrection

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

Prepare to be…GOBSMACKED!

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

Kenny. Before & After.

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

The Screen Doors. PART II.

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

Oh. Oh! OH! Oh….FUCK!!!!!!!!

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

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

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

Kenny. Ross. Frustrated.

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

Repairs Commence!

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

Spending the Afternoon in Florida!

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

A Faux Story

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

The Terrifying Snake

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

More Faux

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


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

Repairing the Oh Poo

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

Ross Did….WHAT????????

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

Parlor 3.0

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

Shaving the House

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

And…poo. Again.

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


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

A Milestone!

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

Sealing Up

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

A Lighter Adventure

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

The Dramatic Gesture

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

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

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


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

A Safe Landing

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

Sealing Up!

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

A Small Clue To The Past

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

Road Trip!

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

Trippin’ Down Memory Lane

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

Sealing Up

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

Rugging Out!

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

Rugging Out! PART II.

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

Putting Bits Back

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

A Rug Evolution

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

Year Five Begins!

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

Wanna Meet Wacky?

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

Speaking. Again.

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

Revived Bits

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

Giving Up On Mr. Darcy

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

Fun with Furniture

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

Fun with Furniture II

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

Fun with Furniture. NOT!

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

Parlor 4.0

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

The Niche…Revisted

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

Enjoying the Self-Selected Hunt

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

A Continuing Niche

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

A Continuing Niche…Dreaded

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

A Continuing Niche PLAN

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

A Continuing Niche. An End In Sight!

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

Faux Poo

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

An Inching Along Radiator

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

An Inching Along Radiator

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


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

An Inching Along Radiator

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

A Crazy Crazy Crazy Idea About A Mouse

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

A Continuing Niche. And a Question Answered.

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

Windex Pleasures

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


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


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

A Continuing Niche…as Fabergé Egg?

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

2001 meets…1894

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

The NE Corner…IS SCALED!

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

A Visitor…Bearing Gifts!

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

A Major Discovery Involving an Annunciator!

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

Annunciator! PART II.

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

a TERRIFYING adventure.

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

The Kitchen Windows. DONE!

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

Tracing the Past

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

A Continuing Niche

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

Small Victories

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

Rethinking Mr. Darcy

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

More Windows. DONE!

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

More Stained-Glass Windows. DONE!

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

An Extraordinary Possibility

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


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

Wanna Time Travel? Part 1

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

THE RETURN: Sewing Room Stained-Glass!

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

The NE Corner. A Cosmic Correction.

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

The NE Corner. In the Oven.

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

The NE Corner. The 3/4 Mark!

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

No. No. No, no, NO!

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

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

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

The NE Corner. Three Days.

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

Finding Correct Period-Correct Lighting

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

The NE Corner.

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