Visual Timeline

Walter Anderson Collection - from ESU Archives.

1894. Brand new. Courtesy Walter Anderson Collection, ESU Archives.



Circa-1932. The second floor was converted to apartments, and the Scott Mouse family lived on the first floor. Carriage house to right, after its 1921 conversion to a house. Courtesy Mouse family archives.



Circa-1950, after the Mouse family converted the Cross House into Mouse’s Palace Motel. Courtesy Mouse family archives.


1999. The house at its low point.

1999. The house at its low point, boarded up and surrounded by a six-foot-high chain-link fence. This is when Debbi and Bob Rodak purchased the house. Courtesy Bob Rodak.





When I purchased the house, March 2014.

March 2014, when I purchased the Cross House. Courtesy Bob Rodak.



Summer 2015. The main facade has been repainted to its 1890s colors.





August, 2017. All the secondary roofs have been redone. The tower finial has been restored. The lost finial on the octagon tower has been recreated. The porch railings are starting to be recreated.


October, 2017. I have subtly enhanced the color scheme by adding some accents.


January, 20th, 2021.













  1. Liz Lang on February 21, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Hello, Ross. I have a copper plate of the Cross House. Mary Cross was my paternal grandmother. I love that you have fallen in love with the house! I knew that Bob Rodak was unable to carry out the full restoration, and so glad that you have the requisite skills. My adult children and my cousins will be excited to see what you’ve done. Best wishes, Elizabeth (Liz) Gourlay Lang, Seattle, WA.

    • Ross on March 2, 2016 at 11:52 pm

      Dear Liz,

      What a thrill to hear from you! I have 5,987.648 questions!!!!!!!

      While Bob was not able to finish the restoration of the Cross House, I am forever grateful that his efforts brought the house to the next level. I doubt I would have purchased the house if not for all his work.

      I am crossing my fingers, hard, that I may be able to complete the restoration. And, if not, then I will cross my fingers that the next owner will!

  2. Claudia Smyers Thomas on February 27, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    Thank you for restoring this treasure so beautifully!

    • Ross on February 27, 2016 at 11:37 pm

      You are sweet!

      Thank you, Claudia!

  3. William Channing and Dennis Briley on March 12, 2016 at 12:01 am

    Greetings, my partner and I bought an old Victorian in Honey Grove, Texas, 404 Market Street East. We have spent, so far, five years restoring it to what we think it may have looked like 135 years ago. Please let us know what you think. The house is better known as the Erwin mansion. This is actualy the childhood home of Bill Erwin, now deceased, who appeared several times on Seinfeld, and in the movie, Somewhere In Time, as the old bellman.

    Your home is absolutely stunning. We welcome any advice or input.

    • Ross on March 12, 2016 at 12:14 am

      You have a beautiful home! I would love to see inside!

    • bill whitman on April 3, 2019 at 12:08 am

      wow this is spooky. I was reading comments and there’s my name but not the one I comment as. my name is William Channing Whitman so nice to see another William Channing.

      • deborah whitman on April 4, 2019 at 10:21 pm

        Wow. This is spooky. A relative’s name is Bill Whitman. I’m related to Marcus and Narcissus Whitman, scalped by Native Americans whilst try to convert the *heathens*. Walla, Walla, Wa. college named after them. Et vous? Christina Todd Whitman and Seymour Whitman, mayor of NY, 1904 or 1914??

  4. Rebecca on March 20, 2016 at 9:58 am

    The house looks magnificent. What background do you have to restore houses? It is definitely a big project. My niece is an architect here in Kansas City, who specializes in restoration and preservation architecture. Very best to you.

  5. William Channing on March 24, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    Would like to keep in the know with your progress.

  6. Ronda on April 5, 2016 at 9:49 am

    I couldn’t believe it when I saw this picture:
    I lived in your Dining Room in 1984 before I graduated from Emporia!!

    OUTSTANDING WORK YOU’VE DONE ROSS!! Thank you! Hats off to you!

    I loved living there; I was so humbled and grateful to live there. When I saw this picture, I KNEW IN THAT MOMENT the reason I desired to buy a home like this: it’s because of living in THIS home! Also, I grew up in Independence, KS and there are so many old beautiful mansions there too! I’m divorced and live in Tulsa, and these homes are priced out of my budget . . . but maybe someday! I keep looking everyday!

    I remember my Mother aghast that in my “Apartment” I had to do my dishes in the bath tub! I responded, “this home is SO awesome, Mom, who cares where I do my dishes?”

    I never saw the rest of the home because it was rented out to other college students; I was thrilled to finally see the pictures of the rest of the home. There was this beautiful, serious grad student on the second floor that I always admired but never spoke to or saw on campus, yet I have a feeling she is successful and living in a home just like this one somewhere. No boys were allowed to rent (or visit) when I lived there.

    The Landlord lady was a VERY strict woman,and it was made clear that although I was renting a room–this was still HER home. In fact, the last image I have of her is when I was leaving for class one day out the front door. I looked back at her in the kitchen, she had an apron on, her hair was in a bun, the house smelled like bread baking, her hand was on her hip and she was watching me leave. I remember thinking, this woman really cares about each of her ‘little chicks’ (I mean tenants), [or had I played my record player too loud last night?]. I wish I was more respectful to her at times but unfortunately I was a bratty Senior.

    You’ve brought tears of gratitude to my eyes and so again, I extend my heart-felt gratitude to you for all you’ve done,are doing and will do, which is far more than merely restoring a home.

    Continued blessings to you!


  7. Esthela Parra on August 26, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Dear Ross,

    I just watched the interview video from Circa, and totally feel the love and passion you have for the house.

    You talk and refereed to the property as a living thing, it is wonderful!

    Just love, love the way you expressed your experience, I am so jealous of you! …but very happy for the beautiful old house, just imagining the energy of such old house, the people that lived there, untold stories!!

    I enjoy every word of your interview!!

    Thanks for sharing, and I totally agree with you, to restore an old house, you need to have the main ingredient, be a bit crazy!!

    Esthela Parra

  8. David Paolinellie on November 21, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    Hello Ross,
    Recently discovered your blog, and well I really enjoy your attention to detail and the integrity you ibue throughout the process in restoring and transforming the historic treasure that is the Cross House. I see myself as a slightly obsessive purist that strives to keep original finishes as much as possible too. Original when it can be reused is best, when it cannot, I really admire your dedication to preserving the fabric and recreating details staying as true to the original as possible.

    I like to think of myself as a creative and resourceful person and well like you I notice and focus on things that others easily would overlook. Details matter and yes Necessity often inspires creativity Lessons one learns when working within a budget, and anything vintage.

    So I offer a possible solution to recreating an original detail in a weather resistant way that the original never could, yet nevertheless provided an interesting sightline in the front of the majestic facade that just seems a little more visually interesting and enhanced.

    Much like the Five reinstated rossettes that complete the detail of the trim board below the three windows above the north porch. It looked fine without the recreated rosettes, but now reinstalled, they complete the beautiful window surround and just adds a finishing touch and definitavely restores anew the original detail that make the Cross spectacular !

    So I make a case for recreating the panel detail below the half round window above the main entry porch on the West entrance. However, I propose you could recreate it with extruded foam boards, and resin. Make the panel hollow, and attach it to the wall as an exterior detail, allow for voids behind the panel to allow for water to channel away from behind it so rot will not affect the panel. So Like the original capitals recreated in resin,on the main porch, this detail could be cast and applied as one continious piece reinstalled and weather secure.

    Why should I care, because as I read this I know the original details matter, and the trade-off does make sense, but when you see the original pictures it is there, and although beautiful shingled, in its current state, it’s absence is well kind of missed too. Being equally dedicated to the original I know it was a hard choice to make. So just an idea how this detail could be done to restore an original finish detail without compromising structural integrity and keeping everything watertight.

    In any case I absolutely enjoy your account and seeing your transformation. It is Remarkable to see and follow your dedicated progress in preserving this jewel.

    So happy for you Ross


    • Ross on November 21, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Hi David!

      Very nice to “meet” you! And thank you for the kind words. You seem a kindred spirit.

      I have a solution to the “issue” and will be doing a post about this soon!

      The shingles were always meant to be temporary until I figured out something permanent. And now I have!

  9. Stan Busken on January 23, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Ross, I too saw the interview on Circa and I am so impressed with your dedication to keep this history alive. You can be so proud of yourself. I live in Liberty, Missouri where there is over 100 historic homes. William Jewell College, a wonderful community.
    Thank you, Stan Busken

  10. Jennifer on March 26, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    So amazing! Great job I love it! Can you please post some updated pics? I’m so curious to see your progress. It’s my dream to buy an old home and restore it.

    • Ross on March 26, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Hi Jennifer!

      I post almost daily. If you follow the blog along you will see lots of updates!


  11. Suzanne on July 12, 2017 at 12:48 am

    I found this blog less than a week ago and I am so impressed by your progress with this beautiful old house. I am fascinated by your posts about dual gas/electric lighting. And paint matching. And stained glass restoring. And sleuthing for original finishes. And dumb waiters. Every fascinating detail of your journey. I am hoping you’ll publish a book about your restoration on this historic house once you get to a big milestone (like finishing the exterior restoration?!!)

    I did notice that the veranda/porch posts in 1896 and 1932 appeared to be 3 tone. Did you choose not to go that way?

    Thank you for restoring the past and sharing your progress. It breaks my heart watching all the old craftsmen style homes in my area (with all their intricate details and nooks and crannies) replaced by ugly, soulless, flat stucco.

    • Ross on July 12, 2017 at 7:16 am

      Hi, Suzanne!

      Thank you for the kind words!

      I did paint the column originally in what appeared to be their 1893 3-tone finish. It looked weird! With the shafts the same color as the walls, the columns did not have enough visual weight to hold up the porch roof! So I changed them to the dark olive color.

      • Suzanne on July 12, 2017 at 8:30 am

        I see. I do love the colour choices!!

  12. Shane Lankford on August 8, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    Is the entire house painted that one color. Or is it just the front?

    • Ross on August 8, 2017 at 11:37 pm

      Hi Shane!

      I do not understand. The house is being painted in a 3-color scheme.

      • Shane Lankford on August 9, 2017 at 1:27 am

        I meant is the front color scheme the same as the sides, The street view of the house showed that it was painted white on the sides and yellow-ish on the front.

        • Ross on August 9, 2017 at 9:01 am

          I am working my way slowly around the house. The main facade (west) is finished, and I am now completing the north facade.

  13. Eric Van Renterghem on March 1, 2020 at 9:47 am

    I post some of my “wanderings” when I have a moment, from the almost decade of restoration on “our Money Pit”. Someone mentioned your blog and so here I am! Interesting that some people have “followed” us since the inception while others seem to lose interest after a short time? I have restored several older homes in Findlay, Ohio and have a deep seated interest in preservation (I am retiring from teaching history in public schools). My wife and I converted our 9,000 sq.ft. behemoth into an events venue to help with the costs. No, we don’t really live there, although my wife thinks I do! We live in my wife’s great grandparents 1859 farmhouse plus an 1824 Log house I purchased,dismantled and restored 12 years ago! It’s in my blood and I have more work clothes than dress cloths! Keep the faith! P.S. I see you attempted a gofundme. Many thought I should attempt this but haven’t. I used tax credits to help “fund” the project.

  14. Elizabeth Ciechanowski on April 5, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    Hi, Ross, I was born and raised in Oak Park, Il. I married,had our children and lived there for over 62 years. My husband and I had a realtor who had lived in a Frank Lloyd Wright carriage house.I was a nurse with a MFA. We looked at lot of houses that werejust lackluster. Then we saw
    a real dump built in 1894 with rat traps, termites, knob and tube electricity. But it had great bones.We made an offer within an hour that was ten thousand dollars lower than their asking price of 56,000. They watched my husband write a check for 46,000 and he said the offer was good for 24 hours. We flipped the house with no drywall, just plaster. Long story, but some people want somewhere to live and the rest of us want a work of art. We sold it 7 years later for 425,000. I would never buy a houae built after 1920. Our next house was like yours, juat quite a bit smaller, A dump that became a work of art.

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