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.

Revisiting the Niche

I have not posted an update on the stairhall niche in a while as I have been focused on painting the NE corner. The walls are primed and ready to be painted. The Stencil Library in the UK has agreed to make stencil versions of the original wallpaper, frieze, and ceiling paper. But I have… Continue Reading

The NE Corner

  I have previously mentioned that working on the Cross House would so not be possible without my #1 indispensable tool: audible books. Currently, I am listening to a podcast! It is a great podcast about Hollywood with well over a hundred episodes! If you love old movies and glamorous movie stars from the 1920s… Continue Reading

The NE Corner. NAKED!

          The first-floor round window is restored. Next week, I am picking up the second-floor round window which has has new stained-glass inserted. The window will then be glazed, then painted. This will take a few weeks. The second-floor big window frame needs painting, and then I can install the restored… Continue Reading

a FRUSTRATING adventure

  NOTE: This post contains bad words!   Today, when I arrived at the Cross House, the sun was shining, it was in the eighties, and I mowed some of the lawn. Then I went inside, sat in the dining room, drank some water, and read the latest news on my iPhone while sitting in… Continue Reading

Sidebars

Quietly, all the while I work on the NE corner or the stairhall niche, for example, there is almost a window sash in the basement workroom being restored. And by this baby step method, about 80% of the windows in the house have now been restored. Which amazes me, as when I purchased the house… Continue Reading

Long-Delayed Gratification

About ten years ago I purchased a pair of candle sconces online. They looked to be from the 1950s, and had a Hollywood-Regency quality. Mmmmmmmm. The sconces arrived. I liked them! But could not find a place for them, so they were put in a box. Years passed, and the sconces stayed in their box,… Continue Reading

The Art of Deception

  Of course, the NE corner is not done. Not quite. Not yet. But it will be soon! Very soon! In the above image though, I hope you will appreciate that the restored long bedroom east window sashes are back in place! See the before:       Continue Reading

Visitors!

  OK. Maybe that is not exactly how the tour transpired, but Shelley really has read every blog post and it was great fun touring the house with an über fan.     Continue Reading

A Sill Drama

So……I sat on the ground to begin painting the basement window in the NE corner. The window sash and trim were restored and primed white in 2014 by one of the guys working on the house. Thus, all I needed to do was paint on pretty colors. This assumption quickly proved….foolish. As I went over… Continue Reading

The Window From HELL

    Last year, I had the three AC condensers relocated away from the house, and the AC lines removed from the window and buried in the ground. Ahhh, much better. Then I tried to take off the plywood. And gave up. It was screwed and glued so over-the-top that it could have survived a… Continue Reading

The Third-Floor Windows Are Done!

          I have fragments of one of the lost south windows and I go back/forth about what to do. Should I recreate the lost triple set? By doing so, I would lose the door and the Juliet balcony, which are nice features. And I am loathe to lose these features. My… Continue Reading

The Joy of Tidy

Today, I arrived at the Cross House… …and had no idea of what to do. Well, this never happens. Each day, I arrive with plans for X, but now that I have finished the NE corner I was not sure of what to do next. The scaffolding is set up to do one edge of… Continue Reading

A Coverup

As each room in the Cross House receives it restored stained-glass transom windows, I delight in making sure the room is lighted at night so the windows can be enjoyed by anybody driving or walking by. One day, an elderly woman stopped by to say that, every time her granddaughter visits, she demands to be… Continue Reading

Being Attacked by Fussy

Today it was raining. Again. This precluded any work outside. So, what to do? What to do? I wandered around the house while listing to podcasts. Then I wiped off the pads on the dining room table. Much better! I wandered all the way upstairs and decided to vacuum the third floor, which is a… Continue Reading

The Window from Hell. REBORN!!!!!!!!

  Task #1 was to relocate the three AC condensers away from the house (they had been placed in front of the window). Task #2 was to remove all the AC lines running through the window and bury them in the ground. These two tasks cost a shocking amount of money but what choice did… Continue Reading

A Decision has been Made!

  I would prefer finishing the whole of the east facade. But two factors have forced a switch to the south: The restoration of the south facade is a large part of the 2017 Heritage Grant work. So, this works needs to begin, STAT. Because the south facade faces, well, south, this is SO not… Continue Reading

Tipping my Hat to 1894 Carpenters

The previous owner of the Cross House, Bob Rodak, gutted the four-story servant’s stair. He remove all the door and window trim, labeled each piece (thank you, Bob), and set all that in the Aladdin’s Cave. Last year, when I was able to at last empty the cave, I sat all these many bundles back… Continue Reading

Irving is Back!!!!!!!!

Last year, I discovered that a bat was tucked into an almost hidden recess above one of the curved dining room windows. This prevented me from painting in the immediate area. Then the bat, quite graciously, moved over to the other curved window, allowing me to finish the first curved window. This year, I have… Continue Reading

Night Magic

As I continue getting stained-glass windows restored, I continue adding more rooms to the “lighted at night” program. The Cross House has an amazing 43 stained-glass windows and while I get to enjoy them during the day, because the sun makes them come alive, people walking or driving by do not get the same delight.… Continue Reading

Petite & Skinny

  The sashes are unlike any in the house. They are not large, quite thin, and high up (higher than my head while inside the bathroom). Normally, I install restored sashes after the surrounding area is painted and restored, so it’s odd seeing these gorgeous windows surrounded by less-than-perfect trim and walls. The sashes are… Continue Reading

COUNTDOWN!!!!!!!!!!

10             9             8             7             6             5                                      … Continue Reading

Hunting for China

On October 1, the board of the 1900 theater is having their meeting at the Cross House, and dinner will be served. Yikes. Last November, I had my first (and only) dinner in the house, my Day-After-Thanksgiving gala. We used paper plates and plastic cup and plastic forks. And I was surprised at how, ah, grim… Continue Reading

The Never-Ending Window…Has Ended

  When i purchased the house in 2014, that sheet of glass was in place. But where was the original wood sash? It later turned up. In pieces. The bottom edge had severe rot, and the lower rail had fallen away. Why this damage had occurred I could not explain as the adjacent window sashes… Continue Reading

A Happy China Cabinet

  I then stood back and wondered: when was the last time fine china was placed inside this cabinet made for fine china? The cabinet seemed, I dunno, happy! And I experienced an odd thrill, too. It was satisfying returning this beautiful cabinet to its intended use. I stood back about six feet…and just smiled… Continue Reading

Hunting for Crystal

In the 1980s, I lived in New York City and had a thriving architectural design practice. Donald Trump was one of my clients (and I may one day reveal my stories). I lived in a very large duplex apartment in Little Italy. I enjoyed having people and clients over for dinner, so had fabulous china… Continue Reading

Treasures from Megan

A while back I did a post about needing a number of corner blocks for the Cross House windows and doors trim. Amazingly, Megan wrote in and said she had nine such blocks. Wow. Then this week a box arrived. Inside? The nine magical blocks!     Thanks, Megan! BIG hug!!!!!!!!     Continue Reading

A Bit of Elegance Amidst Ruins

    The table will look pretty for less than five minutes as people bring in their own containers of food, cans of beer, and papers and phones and iPads. But…for a brief moment there is elegance amidst the ruins and I think the contrast is delicious.     Continue Reading

Dinner Update

    The table was set for eight but I had no idea of how many would show up for the board meeting. When seven arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had worried, quite a bit, that I had overdone things, and that some board members would find it all too froufrou. Yet,… Continue Reading

FURY at the Cross House

Today, when I was a block away from the Cross House, I looked at the house…and my brain could not process what I was seeing. WHAT? As my car continued, things came into focus. Standing on my front stone steps was a young woman in a huge pink wedding dress. Standing next to her was… Continue Reading

More Windows!

          In 2014, the idea of restoring the 2,576 windows in the house (OK, maybe not that many) seemed an impossible task. Yet,  somehow, there are now only five clear-glass windows which need restoring. Only five! And these will be done by the end of the year. Zounds! What has enabled… Continue Reading

The Mysterious Library

I have only ever offered glimpses of the Cross House library. The room was a gutted shell when I purchased the house. And it was the first room I mostly finished because I needed to get all my books out of storage and into the house, STAT. So, while the room was finished, it was… Continue Reading

A Faded Past

In the early 1970s, Phyllis and Louis lived in the Cross House. They were young and way cool, baby. I did a post on them, showing their expansive third-floor apartment Phyllis and Louis also graciously forwarded this evocative image looking down into the first-floor stair-hall.       Continue Reading

The Thin Line

    This week the Thin Line should be completed and the scaffolding will be moved to (drum roll, please) the SOUTH FACADE!     Continue Reading

A Moving Question

Today, Mary Carol asked: “When are you moving in?” It’s a good question. It’s a question I cannot answer though. From day one the following issues have precluded my moving in:   STOP THE FRIGGIN’ AIR When I purchased the house in 2014 wind freely blew through it via cracks and through all the windows… Continue Reading

The Thin Line

            I still have some touch-ups, and a couple of trim pieces to install, but I can soon relocate the scaffolding to —  drum roll, please — THE SOUTH FACADE!       Continue Reading

When I Became, Officially, A Crazy Cat Person

In 1975, when I was eighteen and living in my first apartment, a cat snuck in. And decided to stay. I soon learned why. She was pregnant and gave birth to two kittens shortly thereafter in my closet. My new brood: Mama Little Girl Little Boy Mama was a fabulous cat, and so were her… Continue Reading

A Breathless Cat Fence Update!

Mary Carol had asked: “When are you moving in?” To answer this question, I did a post. I had no idea that in answering her question something unexpected and wonderful would happen. But something unexpected and wonderful did happen. And is happening. In the post, I detailed the numerous reasons why I still cannot move into… Continue Reading

The South Commences!

    Not long ago, new shingles had been installed in just this area. But over the rotted sheathing! This just freaks me out! FREAKS ME OUT! The damage was caused by a leaking built-in gutter above, and even though new shingles had been installed a while back, the cause of the damage and not… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet the South Facade?

Before I formally introduce the unrestored south facade of the Cross House, I thought you might enjoy a quick revisit of the restored west and north facades, and the partially restored east facade.                 Now, are you sitting down? Do you have a glass of wine on hand?… Continue Reading

And…..the Belated East Facade

  Yesterday, I did a long post showing the restored west and north facades, and the terrifying south facade. Then Mary asked: “But where is the east facade?” I can deny Mary nothing, so today I added before/after images of the incomplete east facade. You can view the updated post here.     Continue Reading

A Breathless Cat Fence Update! PART II

Six days ago, I did my first Cat Fence Update. And that post was a response to this post, which detailed the reasons why, after five years, I still cannot move into the Cross House. Most of these issues have been resolved during the last five years, but the last issue is proving intractable: The cat… Continue Reading

South. Upper Corner. Eek.

    What is so weird is that it is obvious that the very shingles I removed had been removed not that long ago, and that the inside corner was filled with putty and stuff. And somebody must have removed the original crumbling, rotted 2x6s…but they did not replace them, and then nailed back on… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Cat Fence?

A year ago I did a post about creating outdoor “rooms”. Because the yard of the Cross House is minuscule, and because the house abuts a four-lane highway, creating a series of enclosed “rooms” is a really good way of mitigating both these issues. I learned long ago that if one can see an entire… Continue Reading

Do You Want to be on the Right Side of History?

WARNING: This is a political post.     The above image is famous. It depicts a moment in time when nine African-American students, escorted by the National Guard, were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The nine students were surrounded by an angry mob of white people who did not want to share… Continue Reading

The Shingle Drama

      With the corner now rebuilt, it was time to focus on getting new cedar shingles. I had hoped to re-use about 50% of the old shingles but no longer think this is an option, at least for this portion of the exterior. For days and days I tried to find a supplier… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Cat Fence? PART II

The other day I introduced what the famous cat fence would look like. Some people liked my color choice (charcoal) and some didn’t. But nobody quite seemed to understand what the fence would look like upon completion. I mentioned that it would be very simple, kinda like a Richard Serra sculpture.        … Continue Reading

Wanna Meet My Cat Fence? PART III

      Several readers are worried that the cats will be able to climb the metal fence by using the ribs as stairs. This will not be possible, as decades of experience with metal fences has taught me. I am planning to place an order this week for the metal! Squee!!!!!!!!     Continue Reading

The Diagonal Drama

It’s a good thing y’all weren’t with me at the Cross House today. For, my language would have scandalized you. Scandalized! I cursed and cursed the whole afternoon. In short, Ross was not happy. And it’s my own fault.   Several decades ago I learned an invaluable lesson: If you are doing anything, be it… Continue Reading

A Breathless Cat Fence Update! PART III

Since my last update a week ago, donations to Fence The Cats have continued to come in! This all began when I did a post detailing the reasons why, after five years, I still cannot move into the Cross House. Most of these issues have been resolved during the last five years, but the last issue is… Continue Reading

When Superman Died

When I was, say, twenty, I had a built-in assumption: I was Superman. This was never a conscious thought. It was, rather, just somehow understood. I felt I could do anything. I could pick up heavy loads. I could climb ladders all day with impunity. I could work long, hard hours to no ill effect.… Continue Reading

The White House

    Because all roads and sidewalks were warmer than the snow. they remained clear of snow. But everything else looked like it had been covered by blown-on cotton. It was beautiful.       Continue Reading

Mmmmmmmmmmm, warm.

Last January, I finally, finally, got the radiator system of the Cross House up and running. Long-time readers will recall some, ahh, mishaps during the process but after some ado the miles of pipes filled with hot water, the many radiators filled up, and slowly the huge house responded and….warmth was my reward. It was… Continue Reading

Round. Resumed.

Justin called me yesterday. “Do you have any indoor work? I am freezing at the outside job I am working on.” I replied: “Why, yes, Yes I do.” And so begins today’s tale…   Last winter I began working on the FABULOUS round bedroom. This will be my office. And I am living for the… Continue Reading

It’s Alive! It’s Alive!

Click on video:   To me, when a room in an old house is rewired, and all the wiring is done, there is a special moment JUST before the electricity is turned on, a moment filled with anticipation…and anxiety. Will everything work? Then — drum roll, please — the switch is flipped, and the overhead… Continue Reading

Lighting like it’s 1894!

      I purchased the sconces a few months ago, after they were brought to my attention by Bo Sullivan. The round bedroom is now the second room in the house where I have installed gas/electric sconces in their original location. Which makes me very happy! Thanks, Bo!!!!!!!!     Continue Reading

Punching Holes in Plaster. Fixing Holes in Plaster.

“Oh! That house needs to be gutted to the studs!” I hear this all the time. I read this all the time. And I cringe every time. Buying an old house and tearing out all the plaster walls and ceilings is just, well, stupid. Houses with plaster: Sound better. Retain heat as plaster absorbs heat.… Continue Reading

A Breathless Cat Fence Update! PART IV

Since my last update a little over two weeks ago, donations to Fence The Cats have continued to come in! This all began when I did a post detailing the reasons why, after five years, I still cannot move into the Cross House. Most of these issues have been resolved during the last five years, but the… Continue Reading

The Brutalized South Facade

The weather has warmed up! So, I have resumed my focus on the south facade of the Cross House. And boy, is it beat. I have now worked on the west facade, north, and east. And most of what was there in 1894 is still there today. Very few shingles or siding needed replacing, and… Continue Reading

What We Do For Love

Yesterday, it was 60 degrees. Today, there was a blizzard. So what did Ross do? He jumped in his car and drove through a blizzard so he could check that the Cross House was OK. Sigh.   I promised myself that if the roads were really bad I would turn around. And after just a… Continue Reading

Glittering Jewels

      No image captures the best aspect of the many stained-glass windows: They sparkle and glitter as you pass by. The effect is magical. Just utterly magical. Recently, somebody I know stopped me in the post office. She told me that, when she is in Emporia after dark, she goes out of her… Continue Reading

Activating Hollywood Regency

  There were two problems however: There was no electricity TO the sconces. The sconces clashed with the almost-period-correct gas/electric chandelier. Right away, I decided to get rid of the chandelier. It was more 1904 than 1894 (oh, the horror) and was, importantly, too fancy for the room which would have originally had a much… Continue Reading

Excitement! Involving a Murphy Bed!

Today, Justin and I began to rewire the Sewing Room. I drew on the north wall where I wanted switches and sconces to go over the bed. Then Justin said: “Wasn’t there a Murphy bed on this wall once? Isn’t that stored on the third floor? If so, why not put it back?” Egads! What… Continue Reading

Murphy Beds! Everywhere!

    In 1950, the younger Scott Mouse transformed the Cross House into the Palace Motel. The Murphy beds were removed although their wood cabinets remained, turn into closets. Two such closets remained when I purchased the house: the Long bedroom, and a narrow such cabinet in the hall (which appeared to have been placed in… Continue Reading

The Eventual Sewing Room

The other day I did a post about the Sewing Room at the Cross House and mentioned that, when it was finished, I would rent it to a roommate. Several readers did not quite understand. Was I planning to add a kitchen to the room? Would there be a bathroom? So, I did a quick… Continue Reading

Repairing Plaster Walls

    I had planned on simply filling all the smaller holes with sheetrock, and then sheetrocking over the entire ceiling. This is what I have done for decades. But…but…this is the first old house I have ever restored which had radiators. And what, you might ask, do radiators have to to with plaster? Why,… Continue Reading

What IS This?

      The chute has three metal bars preventing any larger object from falling into the chute. The petite door was held by two incredibly powerful spring hinges. One could not just open the door and leave it, as it would instantly snap shut. No, one had to bend down, open the door, HOLD… Continue Reading

An Extraordinary Discovery!

Today, I received an email. The email made me…gasp! Gasp!       The email today was from Staci. Staci and her husband, Rick, own Coffelt Signs in Emporia. Recently, Coffelt recreated the neon sign to the 1900 Theater in Strong City, something I have been dreaming about for two decades. Well, in her email,… Continue Reading

Visitors!!!!!!!!

    The couple are staying the night at the Gufler Mansion in Emporia, and dining tonight at my suggestion, Radius. So, everybody, a big hug for Christina and Dusty!     Continue Reading

A Breathless Cat Fence Update! YEAR-END UPDATE!

Since my last update, donations to Fence The Cats have continued to come in! Rachel: Greetings from the SF Bay area! As a fellow animal rescuer (of foster dogs) I applaud your efforts with the acts. I’m also a lover of old homes but will never actually own one (or a new home, for that matter)… Continue Reading

2018. The Year-End Update. THE ROSS.

Each year, I do a HOUSE update and a ROSS update. While the HOUSE update is highly popular, the ROSS update attracts three times the views. Which is a strong indicator that y’all are interested in the man behind the blog. This is also an indicator that readers are also interested in…ah…my political views as… Continue Reading

A Breathless Cat Fence Update! YIKES!

I’m all excited. And a little freaked out. For, the first part of the famous Cat Fence has been installed! ZOUNDS!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!!!! EGAD!!!!!!!! SQUEE!!!!!!!! So why, you might be asking, am I a little freaked out? Because the finished look is not, ahh, quite what I anticipated.   I ordered a bronze-like metal. What arrived… Continue Reading

NOT Burning in Preservation Hell

About two years ago I did a post about burning in preservation hell. This is what happens to people who screw up old houses. You might want to read the post again, here. In the post, I outed myself as having earned points to Preservation Hell by removing a portion of the original butler’s pantry… Continue Reading

Resurrecting the Butler’s Pantry

So, my last post was about repairing my karma. I am going to reverse a change I made two years ago, a change which entailed removing a portion of the original butler’s pantry along its west wall. The bits which were removed were stored with the idea that a later owner could reverse my decision,… Continue Reading

The Butler’s Pantry. A MYSTERY!

      This baffles me. WHY are the lower doors a different wood? And why…     Huh? I never noticed this before, either. The two lower doors have a large metal strap that goes across them, attaching to the lock hanging to the left. See? This indicates that the lower cabinet was intended,… Continue Reading

The Butler’s Pantry: A Deepening Mystery

                      Everything about the “safe” is a mystery: Why the different wood? Why are its doors a different style? Why does it have fixed shelves? Why the TALL space? Why does it not align with the doors above? I had surmised that the different style… Continue Reading

Doing Battle with the Dining Room. Still.

A little over a year ago I did a post about the difficulty of restoring the trim in the dining room. In all the other rooms of the house the many layers of shellac come off easily via denatured alcohol, revealing the original faux wood finishes. But not in the dining room. The trim in… Continue Reading

The Butler’s Pantry: Lighted!

  The pendant is a bit later than the 1894 Cross House, I think, but it is gas/electric (as the house had originally), and is also of a type which might have been in the pantry originally: simple. The shades are, I think, a bit too fancy, and I am on the search for something… Continue Reading

The Butler’s Pantry: A Mystery UPDATE

  Golly. Who knew that, when I wrote about a mystery regarding one cabinet in the butler’s pantry of the 1894 Cross House, y’all would become so…excited. Theories abounded! Arguments were made! Fist fights broke out! Doors were slammed! OK. Perhaps I exaggerate. But, after much discussion, the mystery is no more resolved today than… Continue Reading

The Dining Room. And Why I Love Kymberly.

As y’all know, I have been struggling with the woodwork in the dining room. In the whole house — save the dining room — the old, dark, depressing shellac is easily removed via denatured alcohol. The results?       It’s all been quite vexing! I have tried all manner of noxious liquids to remove… Continue Reading

Louis. The Tease.

                                                They did find the window, and I can have it! But…they are holding it ransom…until I visit…to pick it up in person! I have been wanting to visit for months and… Continue Reading

The Dining Room

        It now seems evident that the dining room will, more than any room in the house, celebrate a faux bois finish. For, none of the other rooms have, to date, revealed such dramatic faux graining. Thus, after much fretting about all the wood in the dining room, I am now hopeful… Continue Reading

The Butler’s Pantry

  The two TALL doors had been lowered at some point, and the glass replaced with plywood. Yikes! I raised them to their original height, and installed new glass. You can also see one refinished drawer. Dr. Doug is at work making two new drawers to replace the long missing drawers ABOVE the lower four… Continue Reading

My First Dinner!

Last Saturday, I had my first formal dinner at the Cross House. Yes, I had a dinner last fall for the board of the Strong City Preservation Alliance, but I only set the table and everybody brought food. But on Saturday, it was all very grand.   My guess arrived at six, and we sat… Continue Reading

A Complicated Affair

  Wow. Those are really complicated rooflines! Scary! I stare at this image and think: Is all this really mine? I am really responsible for all this? And how the hell did that happen?     Continue Reading

Bitching About Stripping

So, I glopped stripper all over another door to the butler’s pantry. And nothing happened. I pushed the brush against the glop. And nothing happened. I waited some more. Then pushed the brush against the glop. And nothing happened. I stared at the door, uncomprehending. Huh? Rather than all the paint bubbling, the door just looked,… Continue Reading

Cody Sconces. SQUEE!!!!!!!!

A while back, Cody came across a RARE pair of 1890s gas/electric swivel sconces. He brought them to my attention, and I purchased the pair. After some time, I was able to hang them in the parlor. But even though I laboriously ran new wires through the walls to the sconces, I never finished the… Continue Reading

Cody Sconce. ARGH!!!!!!!!

A few weeks ago, Cody brought to my attention a single gas/electric sconce on eBay. At first, I was not interested as I need matching pairs. But…then I realized that there are a few locations in the house which had single sconces. Oh. Oh! Specifically, the servant’s hall, second floor. So, I looked at the… Continue Reading

Making Curvy

  It is not hard. I take three at a time and cut the curve with a jigsaw. Then I smooth them with a disk sander. I have to buy a bundle of shingles and then pull out all the shingles that are 5-inches or more wide. The narrower shingles get used for shims. I… Continue Reading

More Windows!

      I just cannot believe it. There are, I am pretty sure, 5,984 windows at the Cross House. And only TWO more need restoring!!!!!!!! When I purchased the house in 2014, it seemed an impossible task. Soooooooooo many windows needing soooooooooo much work. I would get queasy in taking it all in. But,… Continue Reading

Cody SCORES!!!!!!!!

So, y’all know that Cody has found several gas/electric sconces for the Cross House. I “met” Cody in 2014 when he began leaving comments about an incredible house on Old House Dreams. Here. Prepare to gasp. At the time, Cody was a teenager. He lived near the incredible house and was highly protective of it.… Continue Reading

Cody Scores! AGAIN!

        Cody dreams about being able to own the house, someday. I told him that I first saw the Cross House in 1999 and fell passionately in love. But, buying it was not a remote possibility. I thought: That will never happen. Then in 2014 I purchased the house. Life is strange.… Continue Reading

Revealing the Past

Recently, Becky has been doing a lot of research into the Cross House, and has been delighting me with emails rich with information. Becky, and her husband, John, were my guest for dinner a few weeks ago. One such story involves Issac Lambert, who purchased the house in either December 1906, or January 1907. Lambert… Continue Reading

A Window for Shingling

        While the siding on the west, north, and east side of the house proved, mostly, in good original condition, this cannot be said of the siding on the south side. ALL of it will be removed and most of it replaced. This is a testament to the fact that the sun… Continue Reading

Inching Along in a Faux Bois Kinda Way

  I don’t have time right now to restore the entire upper stair hall, but wouldn’t it be ever so delightful to, at least, have this one wall looking’ good? As part of the process? The wood trim around windows. The problem? Unlike almost all the trim in the house, the trim around the triple-windows… Continue Reading

A Petite Discovery

Last May, I did two posts (here and here) about the discovery that the Cross House originally had a call system, involving “doorbells” in every room, and an attendant annunciator in the kitchen. It was all rather breathless, and all thanks to Blair!         So, the dining room had TWO call bells!… Continue Reading

Inching Along

  It fascinates me to think of the person who applied the glue 69-years ago, having no idea that all their work would be chipped off in 2019, an age of computers, smart phones, blogs, marriage equality, and a reality TV star in the Oval Office.     Continue Reading

Inching Along. Happily.

    Normally I don’t remove trim but this trim is so caked with later layers of paint it really needs to come off to do the job right. In addition, each window has sagged down, in a staggered pattern to the left. This means that instead of all the top trim being level, each… Continue Reading

Inching Along. Unhappily.

  Remember the butler’s pantry? I am un-remuddling my own remuddling from a few years ago, and have been working on infilling the wall I knocked a door into. So, why the argh?       In all my decades of working on old house this has never happened before. At first, I removed the… Continue Reading

Inching Along. Slowly.

    And that little area took much of the afternoon. That it happened at all was because the weather suddenly jumped to fifty. Whoee!!!!!!!! That little area took so much time because it involved a lot of odd angled shingles, and each had to be measured and fitted into place. Often, they didn’t fit… Continue Reading

Undoing the Madness in the Butler’s Pantry

    At first, I never gave the cabinet any thought. Then, I wondered: WHY are there ugly plywood doors at the top?         Thanks to Dr. Doug, the two missing drawers are back! The missing serving counter is back! (It looks bent in the image. It’s not.) The glass is back… Continue Reading

My Second Antique!

This is my sixth year of owning the Cross House. In all that time I have come across one period-correct, and budget-correct antique for the Cross House:     It’s easy finding fabulous antiques. It’s not easy finding antiques which are really right for the house, visually. People who own old houses often fill them… Continue Reading

Antiques Galore!

The other day I posted about a settee which David brought to my attention. The settee was period-correct for the 1894 Cross House, and budget-correct (meaning not too fancy/simple for the Cross House). The settee was also close by, inexpensive (because the seller knew it would need to be reupholstered), and my friend Carl picked… Continue Reading

Inching Along

    So, by next week I should have the wall painted (a kinda greenish taupe), have the gold picture rail installed in the original location (about 20-inches below the ceiling) and the frieze painted (pale taupe). The trim will all go back. I am debating if I should paint it (it was painted originally… Continue Reading

Inching Along. SQUEE!

    I painted the walls a greenish taupe, which is close to what the kitchen seems to have been painted originally. The frieze is a lighter color. Between the two, I will reinstate the lost picture rail. The colors are meant to be temporary, which means that I did not obsess over them! If… Continue Reading

Kenny…Inches Along

    Several readers were not happy, thinking that the original finish would never have been so, ah, blond. So, I did a post about the myth that All Old Houses Had Dark Trim. It’s  good post; you might enjoy reading it.               Kenny and I discussed how strange… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet the Bo Mystery Light?

I have good news. And more good news! This post offers a two for one! You get to finally meet the Bo mystery light! You get to see — drum roll, please — the painted-at-last stairhall niche! Yes! Can you even believe it!   Last year I began the restoration of the stairhall niche. This… Continue Reading

Ross Is Gonna Do WHAT?

In 2017, I painted the porch ceiling of the 1894 Cross House. And the color choice was…unexpected.       And this is how things have been since. But…but…Ross wasn’t entirely satisfied. And, as y’all know by now, that can lead to, ah, changes. I loved how unexpected the color was. It was a shock… Continue Reading

Inching Along

        This corner has seemed endless due to the massive amount of work of, basically, wholly rebuilding it. At first, I simply thought it needed some missing shingles replaced! I should not however have been surprised. Everything under this second-floor level was 100% rebuilt in 2014, and I mean everything: all the… Continue Reading

Revisiting…the Carriage House

After purchasing the Cross House and its carriage house in 2014, both structures received work. With the latter, it mostly involved tearing out obviously non-original alterations. At the time, I was only dimly aware of who architect Charles Squires was, and had been told that he did not design the carriage house. Indeed, I had… Continue Reading

If I Could Turn Back Time

WARNING: This is a long and winding post. You might wish to read it when you have some time. And some wine handy.     The poor carriage house. The poor dear. It sits, patiently, while Ross does battle with the Big House. And each year the carriage house…erodes just a tiny bit.   SPRING… Continue Reading

Pondering the Carriage House

    The Cross House. The carriage house. The “barn”. Around 1920s, the double lot was cut in half, and the carriage house/barn sold off. The carriage house was moved a bit forward on the lot, the “barn” was severed, turned 90-degrees, and moved behind the carriage house. Then the whole was rebuilt as a… Continue Reading

The Carriage House Is Blowing My Mind

The 1894 Cross House had a carriage house/barn on the adjacent south lot. Circa-1920, the structure was sold off, and moved forward on the lot a bit; the north “barn” was severed, rotated, and became the east wing of the renovated structure.                   And this realization got… Continue Reading

Patty Wanted To Know…

  The image terrifies me! OMG, that’s all that’s been done on the south facade? Up close, it seemed like a lot! And look at how much more there is still to do! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! That’s it! I’m running for the hills!     Continue Reading

A Columnar Dilemma

  I really hate that post. For five years I have ignored it but, as the big push this year is finishing the south facade, something will have to be done about that 6×6 post. But what?         Ideally, the entire LONG length of the column should be made of one solid… Continue Reading

Building Scaffolding…While Drunk

  Yes, I’m kidding. We were quite sober but doesn’t the scaffolding look like it was built by drunks? When Justin and I finished we stood on ground level…and burst out laughing. It looks SO crazy! The new level will allow the huge cornice to get painted, as well as finishing the shingling on the… Continue Reading

Taming the Meandering Monster Spout

When I purchased the Cross House it had but a single downspout still in place, and this, combined with leaking built-in gutters, caused most of the damage to the house. Hurriedly, I installed downspouts.     But, later this year, the south facade will actually look good. I know, that seems impossible! So, something will… Continue Reading

OOPS

It came to my attention, belatedly, that my blog was having issues. None of these would have been apparent to a reader, save one. It seems that people who had signed on to automatically receive new posts were no longer getting such notices. This included me as well! This is being worked on. In the… Continue Reading

Is it true? Is it possible? Do my eyes deceive me?

    I am beyond sick of this corner! I have never felt this way about any other aspect of the project to date. What began as a simple project (infill some missing shingles) ballooned into a total redo: framing, sheathing, cornice repair, two window frames rebuilt, and only then the tedious work of custom-cutting… Continue Reading

Visitors!

  Beverly, for her birthday, booked the full tour! She drove up from Texas and, after she stepped into the entry hall…she cried. And cried! Sandy smiled at me, and I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. “Oh, Ross! I’m soooooo sorry! I’ve read every blog post! And to suddenly be IN the Cross House… Continue Reading

Inching Along. In a Riveting Way.

My neighbor, Eric, a fellow Squires home owner, climbed out on the scaffolding with me for a visit. I pointed out my current worry: the huge galvanized cornice no longer met the end wall due to settling. I was filling this gap with sheet metal, attached with self-tapping screws. “Oh, no. You should use rivets,”… Continue Reading

Entasis…ARRIVES!!!!!!!!

When I purchased the Cross House in 2014, about half of the twenty main porch columns were missing. One of my first goals was to restore all twelve columns to the west face of the L-shaped porch.       The missing columns had been lying in the backyard for many years, slowly moldering away.… Continue Reading

Reversing Time in the Carriage House

Recently, I did a post about the interior of the carriage house. When i purchased the house in 2014, the entry had a wide, trimmed opening into the living room. To each side of the opening were low walls, clearly 1970s plywood, topped with two petite wood columns, and a pair of oak brackets in… Continue Reading

A Historical Discovery!

One would think that, five years into the Cross House, I would no longer be surprised to discover anything about the house. Well…Mick just proved this assumption wrong. Just twenty minutes ago I did a new post, and Mick asked a question.     Mick asked: “I have to wonder… the two single piers so… Continue Reading

1, 2, 3…SQUEE!!!!!!!!

      The twin single stone plinths are, once again, revealed, and as they were intended to be. They will have lattice between them, and a railing. It’s hard to believe that by the end of the year all this should look fabulous! Hard. To. Believe. And when it is all done…I will reveal… Continue Reading

Before. A Most Delicious After.

    This single corner has been overwhelming. And I have never said that about any project on the Cross House. The work began in October! Eight friggin’ months ago! EIGHT MONTHS! While the work has not been continuous for all those months due to cold weather or rain, it has nonetheless been eight months… Continue Reading

10, 11, 12…SQUEE!!!!!!!!

                                          I call this the big sweep because the cornice sweeps around the corner. As will the railing and lattice. The latter two will be in by the end of the year! And what a… Continue Reading

Inching Along

    The #4 column is not shown, nor are all the bases. These are in the kitchen of the Cross House, while all the above are in the living room of the carriage house. I keep darting back/forth with a wet paint brush!     Continue Reading

I Spy…

        The column looks SO out-of-place! It’s all pretty and pristine against sooooooo much decay! I am beyond excited. EXCITED!!!!!!!! In January, 2015, when I was able to return all the missing columns to the west face of the main porch, it would not have seemed possible that getting the south face… Continue Reading

Swept Away

Today, I arrived at the Cross House. It’s 90 degrees with very high humidity. It feels like an oven outside. But…the lawn needs mowing. I work hard at keeping the lawn mowed and edged because it conveys to the community that the house is being cared for. It is loved. Yes, the outside looks much,… Continue Reading

Two Old Guys. Decorating.

Today, I drove the 90 minutes to Dr. Doug’s huge 1904 house to deliver more period-correct lighting. He and I have been bartering. He gets lights. I get woodwork. Doug is soon to start on the lattice for my front porch! After hanging a sweet 3-arm fixture in the white bedroom, I stood back and… Continue Reading

I Spy…

          It is a THRILL seeing the two stone piers stand, again, alone as originally intended. And to see columns again? SQUEE!!!!!!!! Columns! Only the hand-carved capitals of the columns are original. All else is new, exactly replicating the originals.   A BACKGROUND STORY When I first saw the Cross House… Continue Reading

I Spy…Oops.

      Today was a “feels like” temperature of 101 degrees with the heat and humidity. Ross not happy about this. Installing #4 was in full sun. Ross not happy about this, and he was soaked. After much bonking pounding and swearing, the capital and column would NOT align. This would be easy with… Continue Reading

A Stepping Consideration

            So, it seems obvious that if the extant three steps are all curvy, that maybe the missing one was, too? But I don’t think so. There’s the 1999 image of a straight run. And the steps might be original. They were rotted enough to be.     Thus, my… Continue Reading

Taming Crazy

  When I purchased the house in 2014 it had but a single downspout. All others had been inexplicably removed, causing extraordinary damage over the years. I rushed to install spouts, and this one was cobbled together out of what I could find. The spouts aren’t normal, of course, but round. This used be common.… Continue Reading

A Trip to the Magic Man

I always love visiting Scott. I bring him stained-glass windows in disturbing, depressing, and worrisome condition, and he magically transforms them. Today, I dropped of three stained-glass windows from the round bedroom. And I picked up a finished window.               There are 43 stained-glass windows in the house, which… Continue Reading

I Spy…!!!!!!!!

      I am soooooooooo excited about this. Bringing back the many lost columns to the main porch is something I’ve yearned for, yearned for since 1999, well before I purchased the house. And now, now, all the lost columns are in place. They are back. They are really there. Really! So much damage… Continue Reading

Micro Improvements

              There are three things which, I think, announce that a house is loved: A crisply cut/edged lawn. Flowers on the front porch. Clean windows.       Continue Reading

My Monica Closet

In an episode of Friends, the obsessively compulsive Monica is discovered to be hiding a secret: a messy closet. I often think of this episode. For, I work hard at keeping the Cross House neat and tidy. I regularly vacuum top-to-bottom. As mentioned recently, I keep the lawn mowed and edged, and the windows clean.… Continue Reading

Making My Own Built-In Gutter!

In 2015, I had the built-in gutters of the Cross relined with some space-age white goop. And, presto, the gutters stopped leaking! As time however would soon prove, my excitement was…premature. For, while the gutters did indeed no longer leak, several areas of gutter simply allowed water to cascade over their edges. And this caused… Continue Reading

In The Pink!

  The original columns look TERRIBLE. There are black from age, and the capitals look totally corroded. The pristine new columns offer a stark contrast. A scary contrast. Yet, through the wonder of elbow grease…         Continue Reading

Roundly Excited

    There are two such windows. One was restored last year, but this matching window has taken forever. But, it now has new glass, the glazing is done, as is the priming and painting. Next, will be the laborious and careful scraping required to created laser-sharp edges where paint meets glass. This is easy… Continue Reading

Please Stand By For…ZOUNDS!

Y’all have been asking: “Why has Ross stopped posting?” Well, my last post was on the 10th, so that means this is day 7 of no posts, the longest since I began this blog in 2014. Linda asked: O.k…, I am going to start checking area hospitals…and if you aren’t there, I am checking myself… Continue Reading

Looking Back. Taking Stock.

NOTE: This is my longest ever post. Make sure you have some time. And a glass of wine. And, this post will be much better on a computer rather than a smart phone. NOTE: The images may take a while to download.   2014 From my very first blog post: One thought pushed me over… Continue Reading

Going Glossy!

      I have no idea why the right door is darker. It was not like that in 2014. At some point, a few years from now, I will bring the doors back down to bare wood, and bleach the right door. Or something. Then refinish again. In a few years. It’s nice how… Continue Reading

Wood Corner Guards

      I have been searching for vintage wood guards for years but have never come across a matched set of four. Then, a year ago, I noticed that the Cross House had wood corner guards! And they look nothing like what I was used to. So, I removed a guard from the Round… Continue Reading

Caretaking

      However…I have no intention of installing the doors. Mostly because they will then cover the gorgeous solid wood doors. Oh, the horror! In an age before air-conditioning, comfort would have overruled aesthetics but, with the house now being fully air-conditioned, this is now a moot point. So, why am I having the… Continue Reading

Visitors!

      Kyle is a gastroenterologist with a hematology subspecialty. Hasan is a computer scientist. Golly. While Kyle is the Cross House fan, and has read all the blog posts, Innes and Hasan also seemed to enjoy the tour. I noted that Kyle took a particular interest in the stained glass, and it was revealed… Continue Reading

Upgrading the Past

I began painting the exterior of the Cross House in 2014, shortly after buying it. This had soooooooooooo not been my intention but I could not find a painter willing to take the job. So, I thought: Well, I’ll just begin and will soon find a painter. That day never happened. It is just as… Continue Reading

A Novel Question

I’ve never asked y’all this before: What fabric should I use?       Kyle recommended Fabric Guru. “I get lost on this site for hours and end up buying stuff that I have no immediate need for!” I scrolled through the site and became quickly overwhelmed! Right away, I ignored all the “grandma” fabrics.… Continue Reading

Hardware Excitement

      The search, which I expected would be long and torturous, ended up taking but minutes. My first stop was Rejuvenation. A few clicks on the keyboard, and—zounds!—there they were. A few more clicks and four were mine. Would that everything be so easy.   Continue Reading

Wanna Time Travel? A Belated Part 2

In 2018, I did two posts about about Phyllis and Louis, here and here. The second post was titled Part 1. And, at long last, I now present part 2! As I wrote in the first post: Phyllis and Louis were last in the house in the 1970s, when they first rented the Octagon Bedroom,… Continue Reading

A Mystery Revealed! Sorta.

  Do you see what I see? Why is all the trim in the room so dark (which happens when shellac ages) but not the door? The faux bois finish on the door appears near original, and was clearly not repeatedly re-coated with later layers of shellac like all the surrounding trim. I thought I… Continue Reading

A Column SQUEE!!!!!!!!

        This column, to me, was the poster child symbolizing the decay of the Cross House. For five years it taunted me. Each time I would gaze at it, I would feel a stab of pain. With every passing year I would grow ever more worried: Would I ever be able to… Continue Reading

Fuchsia Madness

Today, the draperies arrived for the dining room! Why, one might ask, did Ross order draperies for a room which looks like a bomb has gone off in it, a room perhaps two years from being restored and decorated? Because…A SALE! My friend Patricia keep telling me: “Ross! Half Price Drapes is having this incredible… Continue Reading

Should Old People Buy Old Houses?

I love the fabulous Kelly and her Old House Dreams, and donate to her every month, automatically, via Patreon. One thing I often notice is how people comment with something like this: I love this house and if my spouse and I were younger we’d take it on. Every time I see this I think:… Continue Reading

A Marble Adventure?

Mary contacted me. She came across a marble vanity, and wondered f I might be interested.     It was advertised as a counter and backsplash, but the height of the backsplash seemed…unusual. I have never seen one that high. So, my excitement was mitigated a bit. I also worried that the marble “apron” was… Continue Reading

Magical Marble

MAGIC EVENT #1: Five days ago I did a post about a marble vanity. Mary, who reads this blog, found it on CraigsList and brought it to my attention. She thought it seemed perfect for the Cross House. And…it was!     However, it was a ten-hour drive away. So, that would be 2-days in… Continue Reading

A Column Milestone!!!!!!!!

Porches are highly vulnerable things, and it is common for Victorian-era houses to have lost their original porches. Like with this house…             When I first saw the Cross House in 1999 its porches were in sorry condition with a lot of bits missing including many of the columns. Still,… Continue Reading

Drum Roll, Please! The Marble Vanity ARRIVES!

    Celeste is a super-fan of this blog, and has read every post. She even remembered the names of my indoor kitties! It was great fun touring the house with her as she would gasp with delight at X or Y or Z! “Oh! That’s the termire-damaged wall!” We all went out to Radius… Continue Reading

My Corners Are Guarded!

      The guards exactly match other such guards in the house. Thanks, Dr. Doug! This small improvement delights me. I added the two bump-outs in 2014 to support a new steel beam in the ceiling and the guards help make this minor change look, well, right.   Continue Reading

Shingling…RESUMES!

  This corner will be—sigh—incredibly time-consuming, just like the inside corner which took forever. Not only will each shingle need to be custom-sized and with half of them half-rounded on the bottom, but each shingle on the outside corner will need to be vertically beveled so as to properly “kiss” the adjacent beveled shingle, creating… Continue Reading

Inching Along

  The drain to the sleeping porch (lower left) has somehow managed to remain intact, even though the porch was enclosed for most of its existence, and all the shingles in this corner were lost long ago. I reopened the porch a few years previous. Curiously, even in massive downpours, I have never seen the… Continue Reading