History of the Cross House


The Cross House by Charles. W. Squires.

The Cross House by Charles. W. Squires.


A very brief history of the Cross House:

1894: Harrison and Susan Cross build the Cross House, which was completed in March. The couple had occupied a house previously on the site, which they had relocated to 624 Cottonwood (no longer extant). While the Cross House was being built the couple occupied a house just to the south of the site (516 Union; extant). In September, 1894, Mr. Cross died (six months after the Cross House was finished).

1902: Mrs. Cross dies. The Cross House, by the terms of her will, is deeded to Fred Newman, acting as a trustee for Mary Cross (b. 1885), the granddaughter of Harrison and Susan Cross.

1907: Newman sells the Cross House.

1907 – 1909: Isaac and Hattie Lambert. Hattie died in 1907, and Isaac later married Milson Cutler. In 1909, Isaac died in the Copeland Hotel fire, Topeka, Kansas.

1909- 1915: William M. Meffert.

1915 – 1928: Emma Gross, a widow, and Vesta Gross, a single person, purchased the three lots (82, 84, and 86) which the Cross House was built and adjacent carriage house. Later, they sold the Cross House (lots 84 and 86), and later released 6-feet of the south side of lot 84, presumably to increase the width of lot 82 (occupied by the carriage house). It is not know when lot 82 was sold off, and it vanishes from the Cross House history until 2002. The Cross House then went through a succession of owners and uses including a stint as the Elms Tea Room open to the public.

1929: Scout Mouse, Sr., purchased the house, and converted it into apartments.

1950: Scout Mouse, Jr., converted the house into the Palace Motel.

1960: The house was purchased by Frank and Esther Toms, and used as a fraternity, boarding house, etc.

1993: The house was purchased by Harry W. Thompson.

1999: The house, now boarded up and surrounded by a six-foot-high chain-link fence, was purchased by Debbi and Bob Rodak, and converted back into a single-family home.

2002: The Rodak’s were able to reaquire the carriage house, separated from the Cross House for a century.

2011: Bob Rodak successfully had the Cross House placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

2014: The Cross House, and carriage house, were purchased by Ross MacTaggart.


Harrison Cross. Sadly, I cannot find an image of Susan Cross. Image courtesy of the Lyon County Historical Society.

Harrison C. Cross. Sadly, I cannot find an image of Susan Cross. Image courtesy of the Lyon County Historical Society.


Charles S. Cross, the only child of Susan and Harrison Cross. Image courtesy of the Lyon County Historical Society.

Charles S. Cross, the only child of Susan and Harrison Cross. Image courtesy of the Lyon County Historical Society.



From the Emporia Gazette, 1894:


CROSS Col. H. C. Cross – Emporia Gazette – 06 Sep 1894
Died 05 Sep 1894 – OUR CITY MOURNS.

Another of Emporia’s Pioneer and Ablest Men Passes Away.

Col. H. C. Cross Dies Suddenly at Mackinac Island – An Irreparable Loss.

A Life Full of Honors and Good Work Comes to An End – Sketch of Col. Cross.

Another of the men who have made Kansas great, who have lived lives, which have done good for the world and their fellow men has passed away.

In the death of Col. Cross the city of Emporia and the state of Kansas have suffered a loss which is irreparable. He was a man of the highest personal character, full of the energy of an active life, a lawyer and business man of ability, posessing great powers as an executive and impressing every one with the sincerity of his purpose, purity of his integrity and strength of his ability.
In the searchlight of a career which brought him before the public, no blot marred his escutcheon. As an industrious and capable attorney, then as a patriot soldier and commander, afterwards as president of a great financial institution and manager of a large railway system, he always displayed the powers which all admire and which distinguish a leader of men.

The citizens at his home are saddened and their hearts heavy with sorrow. They mourn the departure of the strong man upon whom the community could lean. His memory will remain and abide with us as a sacred monument to the noble qualities he possessed, and which his nature displayed.

The blow has fallen with crushing suddenness upon the loved and loving wife and son. Today the sympathy of their neighbors and freinds comes to them in the hour of darkness and bereavement.

Sadness flashed over the wire to Emporia this morning. A few weeks ago Col. H. C. Cross left our city for a northern trip, apparently in his usual good health. Emporians visiting at Mackinac, found him in good spirits. This morning the following telegram told its message of the sudden visit of the angel of death:

GRAND HOTEL, MACKINAC ISLAND, SEPT. 6. C.S.CROSS, EMPORIA, KAS. “Your father died suddenly last night. Will have remains cared for properly. Wire instructions. S.R. Hayes”

Mr. Hayes is father of the proprietor of the Grand hotel and had become a personal friend of Col. Cross during his stay there.
A later telegram from Mr. Hayes gave the details of the death more full.

Col. Cross was taken ill last night at 10 o’clock. A physician was called and all that medical skill could do was invoked but in vain. Death came at 11:15, the cause being heart failure. The strongest applicances for stimulating the action of the heart were used but to no effect.

This afternoon another telegram from Mr. Hayes announced that in accordance wih instructions, the mortal remains of Col. Cross would leave Mackinac this afternoon, arriving in Chicago tomorrow morning.

For several years Col. Cross himself and family and friends had feared the approach of the dread disease. The sudden death of Captain Warren last year greatly affected the Colonel and he has several times remarked that he expected to go the same way. But his general health was excellent and the summer trip was only inspired by a desire for the comfort and coolness of the lakes.

Mr Howard Dunlap was at Mackinac Island Sunday and was with Col. Cross during the day. In the evening when Mr and Mrs. Dunlap went to the boat to begin their journey home, Col. Cross accompanied them to the boat and talked with them until the time came to start. The Colonel was apparently in the best of health, and was rejoicing in a joking way over the fact that he had reduced his weight six pounds in a few weeks.

Col. Cross and Captain Heritage had been together but last week Captian Heritage took a trip to the southern part of the lakes.
Mrs. Cross did not accompany the colonel on the trip and was at home when the crushing news came this morning. She is bearing up remarkably well.

One of the strange coincidences of life is the death of Geo. A. Eddy, of heart failure. Mr Eddy was receiver for the M.K. & T, with Col. Cross and for three years they worked together for the upbuilding of that road. Their death, probably within the same 24 hours, and both of heart failure, is a very remakable coincidence.

The remains will be met at Kansas City, or between Kansas City and Chicago, by a commitee of the Knights Templars, who are to have charge of the last services. They are expected to arrive in Emporia Saturday afternoon, in which case the funeral will be held Sunday morning.

Shortly before he left on his trip Col. Cross prepared a sketch of his life for the use of his family. From this the following facts are taken:

Harrison Cory Cross was born April 17, 1835 in Mad River township, Clark County, Ohio. Died on Mackinac Island, Sepember 5, 1894. Parental grand parents were Scotch Irish Presbyterians, maternal grand parents were English. There are now living four brothers, of which H. C. Cross was the eldest, a half brother and half sister. H. C. Cross was raised on a farm until 13 years old, at which time he was sent to High Street Academy in Springfield, Ohio. From there to Granville College, now known as Dennison University. From there to Antioch College at Yellow Springs, Ohio, in the year 1853 and from there to Commercial College in Cleveland, Ohio, after which he entered his father’s service as book-keeper. During this time he spent his spare hours at the study of law, which profession he afterwards adopted in the year 1866. Was married June 4, 1857 to Miss Susan S. Southerland of Newton Falls, Ohio. From this marriage was born one child, Charles S. Cross, at present president of the First National bank of Emporia, Kan.

He served during the war as captain of Company H. Ohio National Guards, afterwards entering active service as captain of Company F., 153 Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Was mustered out Sept. 9, 1864, at Camp Dennison, Ohio, on account of expiration of term of enlistment. On December 5, 1864 moved from Clark county, Ohio, to Marshalltown, Iowa, and from there to Emporia, Kansas, July 10, 1865, which place has been his residence ever since. First engaged in the live stock business, soon after entering upon the practice of law. Was also assistant United States revenue assessor for about one year for a territory covering what was known as southwestern Kansas. Continued in the practice of law until January 1, 1871, at which time in connection with Honorable William Martindale, Robert B. Hurst and others organized the Neosho Valley bank, which commenced business February 1, 1871, and on January 2, 1872, was reorganized as the First National Bank of Emporia, which institution has since continued in business, and of which he was president for twenty years, retiring in favor of his son.

Was appointed a co-receiver of the M.K. & T.R.R. with George A. Eddy by Justice David J. Brewer, September 9, 1888, and continued as receiver until July 1, 1891. Was elected vice president of the same June 1, 1891, was elected president June 1, 1891. After closing of the receivership he was in active management of the railroad as president and general manager until June 1, 1892. Was a director in said company from May 1874 until May, 1893, when he declined a re-election. Was president of the Kansas City, Emporia and Southwestern during its construction from Emporia to Ottowa, was president of the St. Louis, Emporia and Southwestern during its construction from Pleasanton to Leroy. The first named is now a part of the A T. & S.F. railway, the latter a part on the Missouri Pacific. At the time of his death was director of the First National Bank of Emporia, Kansas, also of Midland National Bank of Kansas City, Mo., and president of the Missouri and Kansas Coal and Land company. Since the closing of his railroad management he has not been engaged in any special business more than looking after his property interests and that of building a residence, which was completed about March 1, 1894.

Col. Cross was a mayor of Emporia, chairman of the board of county commissioners, but always declined going further into political affairs, though taking an active interest.






  1. Zee Nobles on September 8, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Love your house and am filled with admiration for what you’re doing. Best wishes in your restoration. I will be following you.

  2. Gia Poore on October 7, 2016 at 12:37 am

    Hi Ross, I’m an instant fan! I love the Cross House and you for restoring her – what a dream come true! You must be a pretty awesome guy to fall in love with her and be able to bring her back to full glory. Houses this beautiful and rare blow my mind! So cool. I hope I can tour it one day. ~Gia

  3. Blair Carmichael on November 15, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Next time I pass through Emporia to get some Braums Ice Cream, I’ll have to come calling.

    • Ross on November 15, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      ..and bring me, I hope, a double cone of cookie dough!

  4. Debbie Ernst on December 3, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Beautiful house. I am so happy that you are restoring. I lived in the old Reeble house for years.

  5. Jeff Denton on December 19, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    Beautiful house. We lived there and my parents ran the Palace Motel (We called it the Mouse Palace) because it was owned by Scott Mouse. At the time in was successful as I remember it. I was in the 2nd grade at the time and went to the school 1 block south. I may have some of my parents photos of the Mouse Palace. I will try to find them. I would like to see the inside the next time we are in Emporia….

    • Ross on December 28, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      Photos? Photos?

      I wanna see!!!!!!!!

  6. Kim Milliron on January 2, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    I so appreciate the history and reconstruction of the Cross House that you have shared with us.

    My husband and I share a very similar story as yours. I was online looking for a residence for my brother-in-law when I came across a home built in 1901 and, telling by the relators pics, it was in need of a complete renovation. It is listed for $8,500 and I just had to see it. We met with the relator the next day and I am in LOVE with the home. My husband is, too.

    I feel we are Crazy, but we can’t stop thinking of it. It has the radiators, pocket doors (that won’t open), a couple of stained-glass windows (one needs repaired), three fireplaces (all in immaculate shape), and all the orginal woodwork has never been painted or covered with carpet. No forced heat or air has ever been installed. The plaster on the walls and ceilings are in bad shape, the electric, though once updated, my husband wants it updated again. It also needs a new roof. The attic in in excellent shape.

    Oh what a dream. We are in the process of a title search now. The downside is that we have no clue what we are doing. We have always appreciated old homes and I always secretly dreamed of living in one, but neither of us knows the first thing about anything when it comes to restoring it. Ever since I saw the home all I have done is research online about restoring it.

    Your blog has helped us more than you will ever know. Thank you so very much. Hopefully we will soon be the owners too.

    God Bless and I love everything you have done.

    • Ross on January 2, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      Hi Kim!

      Thank you for your comment! And I am breathless to learn if you get the house!

      $8,500? A steal!

      Please please please forward an update! And I wanna see pictures!


  7. Gabi on January 16, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    The house was and will be beautiful again. I’m sadden that Mr. Cross didn’t live long enough to see the house in all 4 seasons.

  8. Amanda Ironside on March 2, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    It is so interesting to learn the long history of some of these houses. Thank you so much for researching and sharing this information about your project!

  9. Blair Carmichael on March 2, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    The R. T. Davis house is catty cornered across the street from us. It’s called the Aunt Jemima house. He invented Aunt Jemima pancake mix. The mansion was built in 1883 and he died shortly after it was finished. There are a couple of sad stories like that in St. Joseph.

  10. Sandra Diane Lee on March 22, 2017 at 4:40 am

    Wonderful and amazing story! I loved the interview by Circa. Delightful and charming Rissand the amazing job restoring this treasure with so many original features intact.

  11. Sandra Diane Lee on March 22, 2017 at 4:42 am

    Oopsie! Meant to say “charming Ross.”

    I just can’t get enough of this and I am going to continue to follow the progress. I have never been to Emporia but love 19th Century architectural treasures.

  12. Mandy on August 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Your home is glorious! I have a hobby of photographing historic homes and was driving through from Austin to Kansas City. I must have photographed 2 dozen homes yesterday and the Cross House was, by far, my favorite. You’re doing a fabulous job!

    • Ross on August 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you, Mandy!

  13. Jen on September 8, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Stunningly gorgeous house,!!! You do amazing work!! Love good crasftmenship and you picked the right house.

    The exterior paint colors are awesome. It appears like an apple green. I never would of thought….but very beautiful

    We just bought a ca. 1862 farmhouse. How do you post photos. ?

  14. James R. Morrissey on October 21, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    I lived in this house two times when it was converted to apartments. The first time was in 1974, the second was in 1979. I’m glad it has been restored.

  15. Sandra Tuttle on June 25, 2018 at 11:05 am

    We drove through Emporia yesterday and I spied your house, took a photo and posted it to tge FB group, Mansions of the Gilded Age. Someone posted about your blog. Congratulations, the house is a gem! I am just getting into your blog. Looking forward to it.

  16. MARY Gai on December 28, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    I recognize the tile surrounds on the fireplaces as Chelsea Tile co…still in biz.

  17. Renee Barcelona on March 19, 2020 at 2:17 am

    Like you Ross, I must be an old soul from a different time era! I too fall in love with these homes, feel like I belong in them. But can never quite get my hands on one.

    God Bless you for the work you are doing. I had always thought I would meet the guy I would marry and we would restore something like that together. That never manifested…oops! I guess I’m on this earth for singing and cooking! Lol. ‘Course I’m such a laundry maven.

    Does your house have a cistern? If it does and no longer functions….that’s usually a good place to cut open to putbin a great laundry room. Just a thought. May the plaster and the Weimans Cream Be With You!

  18. Mark Giedd on March 21, 2020 at 11:11 pm

    Hello Ross, I enjoyed the YouTube video of your house that you’re restoring. Very impressive as to what you’ve accomplished with it. I am curious. Is the Cross House classified as Queen Anne architecture? That style was very popular in the 1890’s.
    Best Wishes on your endeavor!

    • Ross on March 22, 2020 at 8:33 pm

      Nice to meet you, Mark!

      The Cross House is a Queen Anne Free Classic.

  19. Joe Saling on March 23, 2020 at 7:03 pm

    Awesome stuff here- My project house while not as old has similar charm. We are passionate about restoring it as much as we can, as well as updating it along the way where it makes sense. I really enjoy reading and learning from others who have skills greater than mine.
    I was too – brought to this site via the Youtube interview.

    – IF you don’t mind I would like to add you to a list of “restored” or in progress homes. I need to finish the page up but it is in process.

    Excellent work and story telling!

  20. Joe Sallin on March 23, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    Let me try this one more time. My wife and I are restoring a 1959 Mid-Century Modern American Ranch. It is in a perfect setting, nestled next to a lake that a former CEO of Hanes Brands bought several hundred acres and this was the first home built on the property. We are so excited to have this opportunity to put our life into the home with our two girls.

    – I would like to link to your website in a post and or have it listed on the interesting houses that I need to publish.

  21. Gary on October 26, 2020 at 6:21 pm

    Interestingly, JD Hill’s home in Fort Scott KS is eerily similar. He brought the railroads to Fort Scott. My wife and I are restoring a much smaller home there on Main St built by EF McGraw. You should buzz down to Fort Scott and look at the architecture sometime.

  22. Laurie L Weber on January 28, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Hi. Just found the youtube interview you did with Circa. I had to stop to have a good cry – you are living my dream that will never happen. So much of what you said about the house and family hit me hard as they mirror my thoughts. (I am also 58 – so admire you even more) Can’t wait to finish checking out the rest of this website. So awed that there are so many original elements still there! It warms my heart that you know how truly blessed you are – and being in love with a house is such a good thing. Thank you for taking me on this journey. Bless you. (are you Scottish? – just curious as I am also fascinated with Scotland and love watching youtube vids of abandoned places by urban explorers and have to admit historical romance novels! Such history and heritage) Interesting that the original owner once lived in Iowa where I live (except for 18 yrs in Denver)! Thank you again. You are an inspiration to other people to tackle other neglected homes that deserve to be saved. 🙂

  23. Eleanor Smith Litt on May 9, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    Greetings from Michigan. The house is certainly a labor of love. I admire your fortitude more than words can express. Those were the days when houses were solid and have been of great interest to me all of my life. I live in Birmingham, Michigan, and too many homes of stature and quality have gone the way of the bulldozer. So many see a monstrosity instead of the grandeur and beauty that are icons and historical representations of our country. I don’t know of any country which considers these homes, and building disposable. I loved the interview on YouTube you have a great voce. Sincerely, Eleanor Litt

    • Ross on May 12, 2021 at 12:34 am

      Nice to meet you, Eleanor!

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