Formalizing Tours


The Cross House. 


I get a lot of requests for tours of the Cross House.

And I have given a lot of tours.

The briefest tour was to a woman who just stopped by. Within five minutes I could see she was not actually interested. I suspected that she had assumed a beautifully restored/furnished Victorian-era mansion. Instead, she looked at the many rooms, all seemingly destroyed by bombs, with her eyes in ever-widening horror.

I rushed her though. In/out in less than 15 minutes.

The longest tour lasted 5-1/2-hours. This was to a small group which was fascinated with everything and asked really good questions. And they had to see the carriage house.

Most tours last 2- to 3-hours. This is without the carriage house.

Occasionally, people want to reimburse my time and I gratefully accept! On one occasion I got two bottles of red wine and a mound of wrapped chocolates! Thank you, Rhonda!

Normally, I decline to give tours to people who just approach when I am outside. This kinda scares me actually because I have no idea of who they are. I have friends who were robbed by people they gave a tour to! One friend, while restoring his house, was locked in a closet at gunpoint while the robber stole all his tools! My friend reported that the robber looked totally normal. “He even apologized for locking me inside the closet!”


As this blog has increased in popularity, so, too has requests for tours. And people often ask: how much do I charge for tours? The simple answer is that I don’t. But numerous readers have told me that they are uncomfortable with this. “But your time!” Recently, I have been back/forth with one reader who has articulated something I have heard before: “It would be easier for people if you just stated tour rates. I think you should even have a tiered system.” I asked what she meant. She replied: “Have brief tours for X, longer tours for XX, and full-out tours for XXX. This would give people options, and I, for one, would really appreciate that. This would be SO much easier than my guessing. Should I give Ross $10? $40? $100? I hate having to think about this!”

So, I have been pondering all this and have developed the following.



  • TIER ONE: $50. An hour-long tour of the Cross House. This would offer a quick look at the whole house.
  • TIER TWO: $100. A two-hour tour of the Cross House. This would offer a more in-depth look at the whole house, including historical/social aspects.
  • TIER THREE: $200. This is for the Grand Tour of the Cross House and carriage house. This tour will not be timed but is expected to last between 3 to 5 hours. Basically, the tour will verbally download all that I know about the house(s).



The above rates are for up to four people.

The prices are per tour not per person. So, if one person wants a TIER ONE tour, the price would be $50. But if two people want a tour (or three or four) the price is still $50.

If your group is five or more please contact me.



If you have previously contributed via Go Fund Me to the Cross House just let me know and I will be happy to apply this to a tour rate!





  1. Marjie on April 18, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    I think this is a great idea! We will be heading to St Joe for the eclipse in August, and I was thinking of road tripping down to Emporia. How soon out are you planning on booking tours?

  2. B. Davis on April 18, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Fantastic idea and very fair rates. Perhaps also only offer tours on certain days, on your schedule. Maybe once a day or twice a day if you’re energetic. If they can’t make it as scheduled, oh well. You are under zero obligation to do tours. It is an honour to be in your house. What a wonderful house! and you’re a wonderful man for allowing others into your world.

    I agree with you about being concerned about safety. It sucks that we have to think of such things, but it’s reality. I know you’re he-man and all, but perhaps consider always having another person that you know present in the house during a tour or doing the tour with you. You’ve thought of this I’m sure, but I’m just letting you know I support that idea.


  3. nathan on April 19, 2017 at 2:29 am

    A great idea! but are those rates a little.. high? maybe? I’d love to have a tour of your house, but I’d certainly not be able to afford one. at Blenheim palace, a house which has 200 years and 245 000
    square feet on your house and is in constant need of restoration, for 24 pounds you can get a day pass which includes a guided tour and access to the 200 acres of manicured gardens. I do not mean to sound the least bit rude, but very few people (myself included) have that much money to spend. what about 30,60,90? still decent money for your time, most people are happy to make 30 dollars an hour, particularly doing something one is passionate about.

    • Meghan (UK) on April 19, 2017 at 7:19 am

      The difference there is that Blenheim Palace is ‘staffed’, with people available at all reasonable hours to do tours. As the Palace has so many visitors it can afford to pay / has enough volunteers willing to do this, without interrupting the day to day running and maintenance of the property. Ross is doing this out of the goodwill and love in his heart for this beautiful house – and interrupting not only his restoration work on the house, but also his PAID work which enables him to eat…

      Ross isn’t going to be making money with this amount, but he is going to satisfy the needs of those who really would like to her about the house from him, and enable him to continue funding the house’s restoration.

      Ross: I think this is a stellar idea.

      • john feuchtenberger on April 19, 2017 at 8:29 am

        Agreed–I think the disruption to the work looms as large and maybe larger than the time for the tour itself–pre-scheduling will be a must, and then the remains of rest of the day have to be apportioned into discreet achievable tasks and subtasks. I’m terrible at this–drying brushes, set-up glue, abandoned tools on the scaffolding–litter my past. Ross appears more organized (except when he disappears into a boarded-up turret roof on a Quixotic quest for originality)

    • B. Davis on April 19, 2017 at 9:09 am

      So, you’re saying Ross should drop everything, stop his work, stop the restoration of the day, for entitled strangers, for a whole day for 24 pounds? Nope. He is under no obligation to do tours. Right now he’s doing it for free! It’s time that the entitled visitors chip in. Can’t reimburse him? Then please enjoy the blog and pictures, but don’t expect him to drop everything just because someone stops by. (and yet he does). This is his private home. Not a public space. $30 an hour? I won’t get out of bed for that.

      • Mike on April 19, 2017 at 11:05 am

        LOL, Miss B, I had to read those last two lines twice! 🙂

    • Ross on April 19, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Hi Nathan!

      Would you agree that Blenheim Palace and the Cross House are totally different things?

      Blenheim Palace receives almost a million visitors a year. If the Cross House received almost a million visitors a year I would be delighted to give tours for $1 a head!

      Conversely, if Blenheim Palace received, say 50 visitors a year, their tour rates would have to be like $250,000 a head!

      Also, I suspect that the owner of Blenheim Palace is not giving tours!

      • Mike on April 19, 2017 at 11:09 am

        Nothing against castles, but I’d much rather pay to see your house than Blenhein Palace…and it’s good to see a new post from you this morning. I was beginning to worry that you might have fell off the scaffolding or something.

    • nathan on April 19, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      sorry this came out sounding so rude, I didn’t mean to offend but it is obvious I have, sorry for that. I must back pedal a little. Its not that I think it isn’t worth it. It came more out of disappointment, I am going to be in Kansas I and I had been hoping for a small tour but seeing as i’m a student this rather quashes that. I apologize for an uncalled for comment. It is obvious that 2am Nathan on sleeping pills must learn to wait for the morning before hitting send.

      • Ross on April 19, 2017 at 8:12 pm

        I well know the dreaded 2AM altered state syndrome!

        Did you receive the email I sent?

        • nathan on April 19, 2017 at 10:31 pm

          I’m afraid I didn’t. My email has recently decided it doesn’t wish to give me mail from senders other than nigerian princes and cialis. I will refer you to my even more embarrassingly named gmail address from elementary school.

    • nathan on April 19, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      upon thinking it over in a totally lucid state, I do think your rates are fair. though I may be so bold as to suggest a students discount for people like me who would give anything to step inside that wondrous beast of a house, but don’t have a pot to piss in ourselves. make it easier for the youth to get exposed to the wonderful world of historic houses. but maybe not, its your house and I once again apologize for speaking out of turn.

      PS: I shall go flagellate myself for I have offended the great Bette Davis

      • B. Davis on April 19, 2017 at 9:02 pm

        no need to flagellate, however, one must always remember that nobody owes “you” anything in life. it’s wonderful when people do offer time and things free or at a discount for those at a financial disadvantage, but I get tired of hearing from entitled ones who insist it is their right to get/see/go to whatever because they stomp their foot and demand a discount because of their life status. It is not the other person’s responsibility to make up for your situation. Nice if they do, but they are not obligated in the least (restaurants, exhibits, car dealerships)…everything in life comes in due time. The cross house will be here for 100 more years. Plenty of time for the students to contribute to society and also pay regular fares for such things.

        Ross sorry if this is out of line. This is my rant, not in any way affiliated or associated with you, as you hold your tongue far better than I and use more eloquent words.

        • Ross on April 19, 2017 at 10:15 pm

          Hi Bette!

          Nathan was very generous (and brave!) in his two additional comments.

          And this made me laugh: “PS: I shall go flagellate myself for I have offended the great Bette Davis”

          So, Nathan seems a good guy. And I trust that you would concur.

        • Nathan on April 19, 2017 at 10:18 pm

          I am sorry. Do know that it came from a place of 2am “shit, I can’t afford that”, rather than entitlement. I am afraid I must disagree in regards to student discounts though your point is quite valid. I think it’s good to enable the younger generation to gain an appreciation for such things. Though perhaps I’m a wee bit biased…

          • Ross on April 19, 2017 at 10:25 pm

            I recall, with horror, the first time I got “senior discount” at a movie theater!


            But I still took the discount!

        • Peter J on April 21, 2017 at 9:18 am


  4. Mary Garner-Mitchell on April 19, 2017 at 5:10 am

    Ross, I think this is an excellent approach and the rates you’re offering especially fair considering you are only one person and have to wear ALL the hats involved in such interprise. I suspect, however, this could prove so successful you may have to hire a staff to manage bookings!

  5. Cory on April 19, 2017 at 6:10 am

    Do you have good liability insurance?

    • Amie Backstrom on April 19, 2017 at 8:13 am

      That was exactly my thought, Cory. Taking paying strangers into a construction zone opens oneself up to all sorts of issues, because they’re no longer guests but customers. It doesn’t have to be an unsurmountable problem and could maybe be fixed by phrasing. Something like a donation instead of a fee, or whatever is appropriate in your state, might work.

      The concept is valid though. Ross is a busy man undertaking an expensive project. His time is money, no matter how much he may love sharing his passion with an appreciative audience. I think charging for tours is a great idea.

      (Oh and long time reader, first time poster. You’re such an inspiration, Ross.)

    • B. Davis on April 19, 2017 at 9:12 am

      Yikes – an excellent consideration. Mandatory really.

  6. Tony Bianchini on April 19, 2017 at 8:32 am

    I’d happily pay your quoted amounts, well worth it – plus in some small measure, we’d be benefactors in assisting with the preservation of the Cross House.

  7. Mike on April 19, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Great idea. My first thought was the same as Cory’s; my neighbors participated in an old house Christmas tour a few years ago to benefit a civic organization. A man fell on their porch, and they was held liable due to the fact that he had paid to be on their property, even though the money did not go to them. Fortunately his ER bill was less than a thousand dollars, but it was an expensive lesson…

  8. Bethany Otto on April 19, 2017 at 8:41 am

    I think your rate is totally fair and if anyone cares enough to take a tour of the Cross house, then they know you need the money towards the restoration.

  9. Carole Sukosd on April 19, 2017 at 8:48 am

    Great idea ! Are there community events you could partner with. Sightseers for a local event would be a built in audience. The tours I’ve gone on, have someone in each area with a story to tell about that area. They are there for extra eyes for you, security really, or pick specific dates and times for us to work around. And if you want to accommodate a groups schedule, so be it.

  10. Shelley S on April 19, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Thank you so much for the update! I understand completely how valuable your time is & I think this is very fair as far as pricing.

    Believe me, I will get there one day!

    P.S. You’re my old house hero! <3 Total fangirl here!

    • Ross on April 19, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      Hi Shelley!

      I thought you wanted to come by at the end of May, and with some wild&crazy friends?

      • Shelley S on April 20, 2017 at 9:54 am

        Oh believe me, I do.
        I sent you a reply to the email.

  11. Rhonda@Homer Ridge on April 19, 2017 at 11:22 am

    You may need an “umbrella” policy to add appropriate liability coverage (or you may already have that due to construction projects and may need to just review it and possibly add to it). I have one for my farm, it is quite inexpensive. Your proposed charges are not out of line in terms of your time and would be money well spent to anyone truly interested. And for the more casually intrigued, your blog is already top-notch way to discover the charms of Ross and his Cross House!

  12. Doug Walker on April 19, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I have had similar problems with tour requests. I think it is a great idea to post rates and days and times of tours. Charging and clearly posting prices would eliminate the casual drive by lookers who think it would be great to take a spur of the moment tour, but have no actual interest and clarify what is expected of those truly interested in a tour. I find it hard to believe that Ross could give a tour in 15 minutes. He has graciously given me and my family members tours of his house and each time it takes hours. ( Ross does like to talk , you know. ) It is something I have needed to do for a long time. Ross, do it and let me know how it works.

    • B. Davis on April 19, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      Absolutely. Say no to drop-ins. It’s quite rude, actually. (and Ross, you are waaaay too polite!) hugs.

  13. Sandra Lee on April 20, 2017 at 12:45 am

    I think liability protection is a necessity once you have folks paying for tours. Rates are very reasonable. Walk-ins are anathema. Absolutely not to be done. No exceptions. For those interested in seeing the Cross House the blog is a wonderful resource to peruse at one’s leisure. Ross, you are so tender hearted & kind but you cannot drop everything to jibber jabber with folks who don’t understand what a special situation it is.

    The story about the friend who was robbed freaked me out. I have been worried for your safety. Please be careful. Please be mindful of safety.

  14. Christy B on April 20, 2017 at 11:38 am

    For clarification, are the prices per person or per group?

    You say “The above rates are for up to four people.” So would four people give you a total of $50 per hour-long tour or are you asking $50 per person per hour-long tour?

    I totally agree with the reader you mentioned in your post — having a fixed rate is so much easier than trying to figure out an appropriate tip.

    Thank you for all you do! And for letting the rest of us live vicariously!

    • Ross on April 20, 2017 at 11:45 am

      The rates quoted are for 1 to 4 people, total.

      So, if a group of four wanted an hour-long tour, the price would be $50 total.

      If one person wanted an hour-long tour, the price would be $50 total.

  15. Californianinkansas on April 20, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    This is a great plan!

  16. Sandra Lee on April 23, 2017 at 8:52 am

    I think tour rates are just fine. You need to be mindful of your time–time is money. Nathan could go with three others and the cost would not be too prohibitive for a student budget, I think that is the way to go Nathan as I think it would be helpful. By yourself a bit high but join in with friends a better idea. I think you are very nice and respectful of Ross and I never thought you were rude. You were just expressing yourself. I love that Ross loves all kinds of input. Your input was refreshing and honest and I like to see contrasting views. It makes the blog more interesting. Take any vitriol with a grain of salt. Not an atrack on you just concern for Ross and his time.

  17. aLynne on April 26, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    Hoorah and Whoopee! I will finally get a chance to see the house! And a personalized tour from ‘The Grand MacTaggart’ himself. I may faint away with the thrill of it all. Sadly, I will be unable to make it to Emporia until September, but please tell me how to reserve my slot. And Nathan, I’ll be dragging my mother and child, but you can slide into our tour if you like! Anyone who wants to see it that badly deserves a shot.

  18. Sharon Megee on April 28, 2017 at 2:58 am

    I am going to be in Emporia on Saturday, May 20, with my two brothers. We used to live around the corner from The Cross House (moved away in 1961, but I was at college in Emporia from 1966-1970). Can we schedule a tour on the 20th? Either late morning or early afternoon? I think the basic tour will be sufficient for that day. I am fascinated by the house!

    • Ross on April 29, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Hi Sharon!

      I responded to your gmail account.

  19. knothere2day on May 11, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    OMG IVE BEEN SO WANTING TO COME SEE THE CROSSHOUSE!!!!! The tour prices a little high but wow I know it will be put to fantastic use!!!!! Ross as soon as I can come up with a date I will book a tour. I have been following for awhile but just been quiet as a mouse lol.

    • Ross on May 11, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      I look forward to meeting you! Just let me know when/what works for you! Ross

  20. montana channing on August 16, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    I didn’t see the deluxe tour package though – wine, goat cheese, and caviar, on hand-thrown crackers served in the restored library followed by Cuban cigars and a 100-year-old brandy. Then a nap in the long bedroom or a snooze on the sewing room porch – $1000.

    I think you should have a student or poor geezer (that would be me) rate that allows them to work for their tour. If you are going to have a great liability policy, that would protect you when they fall off the scaffolding or tack their hand to the studs with the nail gun. Most people that would want to see your place in the detail that you would provide are probably competent in some form of house construction at least is seems so from your regular commenters so charge them by putting them to work.

    Speaking of which, an 8d nail between the eyes is a sufficient deterrent to most robbers.

  21. Sandra Lee on August 24, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    After the wondrous tour last weekend I was struck by tha absolute enormity & magnificence of the Cross House!!! I was not prepared for how enormous the mansion is in–size wise!!!!! The enormous size i is not until standing n front & it was so wonderful & wondrous!! I think I have been jabbering to a thousand folks in my immediate environ at Mayo Clinic in Rochester (33,000 employees in Rochester, MN alone) so 1000 persons are a drop in the bucket & I am all over St Mary’s Hospital as a medical case manager! I cannot stop raving about your beautiful restoration work!!! Just wondrously crisp!!!

  22. Marie Muskatt on February 17, 2018 at 5:52 am

    Hello and thank you for restoring this beautiful home. My daughter has a dream, one dream only, and that is to own a beautiful Victorian home as this. I will definitely try to get there for a $200 tour with my daughter. She will be thrilled to see the home in it’s original condition. I believe the prices for the tour are more than fair. She would definitely have to see the carriage house as well. Thank you again for restoring this treasure!

    • Ross on February 17, 2018 at 8:20 am

      Hello, Marie!

      I very much look forward to meeting you and your daughter!


  23. Lucy Gwinn on April 18, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Hey Ross!

    I have been in love with your house since I saw it years ago when Bob owned it. I am so happy that you are so lovingly restoring it. I love your blog and all the pictures. You make me laugh out loud with your stories. Thank you for that.

    I would love to see it in person, but alas I cannot. Health and financial deficits preclude me my heart’s desire. Have you ever considered a Virtual Tour?
    Again, thank you for all that you are doing at Cross House and for sharing.


  24. Nicola on August 2, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Ross, is the carriage house going to be available to rent? I was just listening to your interview with Circa on YouTube. Really enjoyable

    • Ross on August 2, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      Hi, Nicola!

      I plan to rent the carriage house…when it is finished!

  25. Beth H. on January 26, 2020 at 8:24 am

    Even though I’ve been following your adventures for quite a while, I missed this post from almost 3 years ago. Are you still doing the tours, Ross? My husband and I would HAPPILY sign up for the soup-to-nuts, basement to attic tour (and yes, the carriage house… of course!). He would be bending your ear with questions and comments – and the less finished, almost the better. He loves the restoring phase (while I drool over the finished product). As soon as last kid is out of the house (we were old first-time parents, and in our 60s, still have a 17 year old), we are heading to Kansas!

    • Ross on January 26, 2020 at 9:42 am

      Yes, Beth, I am still doing tours! And I look forward to meeting you both!

  26. Chris Lucas on May 24, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    Hello Ross,

    I emailed you a while back about tours. I thank you for responding very quickly. However, this exchange was before Covid became an issue. My fiancé and I will be in the area September 18-25, 2020 and would love to see your house. I understand if you’re not comfortable responding to this right now. Maybe I can send an occasional email to check the state of things and your availability as dates approach. We live in Erie county, Ohio and cases are few, but that isn’t the case everywhere, and people need to keep themselves and others safe. Anyway, I hope things are going well.


    • Ross on May 24, 2020 at 8:09 pm

      Just stay in touch, Chris!

  27. Wendy Strukel on May 28, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    Hello Ross, I love your house and blog…I would like to have a tour of 4. Please let me know what your situation is during this quarantine. Things are looking better and I would like to make plans for a tour. Thank you and a big thank you for taking on this lifetime accomplishment. I wish you well. Wendy

    • Eric Boge on June 12, 2020 at 8:09 am

      Good morning Ross, I enjoy reading and seeing the latest updates on your blog. I would enjoy a tour with 4 people. My group would be in the area on Friday June 19th. Not sure how things are working for you with the COVID and tours, state and local expectations etc…….????

      • Ross on June 12, 2020 at 9:02 am

        Hi, Eric!

        Which tour package will work best for you?


        • Eric Boge on June 19, 2020 at 1:38 pm

          We are here at the house for a tour but no one is here?

          • Ross on June 19, 2020 at 1:59 pm

            Hi, Eric!

            I did not have a tour scheduled for today. You did inquire about one, and I responded (see above) but did not receive a response. So, I figured that your plans had changed.

            I also responded to your email address, but this was kicked back: “The email account that you tried to reach does not exist.”

            Nonetheless, I will be at the house around 3.


  28. Laurie L Weber on January 28, 2021 at 8:31 am

    Hi. I would love to see the house and meet you – but it’ll have to be in a little ‘future’. On my bucket list! Thx

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