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.

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

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


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


  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


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