The Cross House
If I were a millionaire, the Cross House would have suffered.
With millions at my disposal, I could have (and would have) embarked upon a restoration with a full crew, and would likely have finished the house by now.
And the house would have suffered.
You see, there are dividends to moving slowly.
By moving slowly, I have learned about the house. And just when I think I could not learn more about the house, the house proves me wrong.
Over and over.
Just three weeks ago I only had a dim awareness that the house was originally lighted by both gas and electricity. And I never much thought about this.
But now? Oh, I have learned a lot.
Today I know that an EXTRAORDINARY and historically THRILLING aspect of the Cross House is that it was likely the very first house in Emporia to have electricity. The house was built in 1894, only two years after the White House was wired for electricity.
Today I know that all the chandeliers in the Cross House were gas/electric combinations, but I have also proved (via extant physical evidence) that all the sconces in the house were also gas/electric.
I did not know this three weeks ago.
Had I rushed through an amply-funded restoration, I would never have made this discovery. Nor would I have discovered the few extant bits of original wallpaper. And the speaking tubes might well have been overlooked and even torn out. Would I have even put 2 + 2 together to realize that the house originally had a dumb-waiter?
THE NOT QUITE RIGHTS
Since buying the house almost two years ago, I had been steadily purchasing period-correct lighting for the house. However, all these purchases later proved almost period-correct, and mostly dated from a decade after the house was built. All these purchases were also, save one, electric fixtures rather than gas/electric fixtures.
Because I did not, well, get it yet, I was not really concerned that installing such fixtures would slightly muddy the historical timeline (1904 rather than 1894). Today though, I realize that installing such fixtures would diminish a vital and extraordinary and fabulous and WAY cool aspect of the house: it was originally lighted by gas/electric fixtures.
And today, unlike just three weeks ago, I belatedly recognize that ONLY gas/electric fixtures should be installed in the house.
To this end, I have started selling off almost all the lighting I purchased for the house during the last two years, and have already sold several fixtures.
Only a single fixture will be retained. For now.
Because the house needs so much work, buying period-correct vintage light fixtures is not actually a priority, my current obsession notwithstanding.
And I know that buying chandeliers for the parlor and dining room, for example, will be WAY out of my budget as large-scale gas/electric chandeliers from the early 1890s are incredibly expensive and incredibly hard to find.
Imagine then, if you will, why my heart stopped last week.
A TANTALIZING VEXATION
A matching pair of early 1890s and large AND gas/electric chandeliers came up for auction on aBay.
Hence, the heart seizure.
And lust reached terrifying new levels inside me. Even greater (if such a thing is even possible) than my green sink lust.
I kept staring at the images online. MUST HAVE was my thought.
Drool dripped from my lips and pooled on my desk. MUST HAVE.
At night, I went to sleep fantasizing about the pair (a pair!!!!!!!!!) in the parlor and dining room of the house. MUST HAVE!
Yet…yet…how could I possibly justify such an expense, even presuming I was the eventual high bidder, and even presuming I had the money? I still have the last 10% to pay on the titanic-sized radiator invoice from last spring. Paying down the invoice had drained every available penny all these months.
How could I also justify such a purchase when 6589 things were of vastly more importance to getting the house livable than pretty chandeliers?
Oh, I was wracked with indecision.
The day of the auction I felt like I would vomit. There is no other way to describe how I felt.
Two conflicting thoughts dominated: MUST HAVE and CANNOT AFFORD.
Two conflicting thoughts. I had visions of being in a tug-of-war, with me in the middle of rope, the rope tied around my waist, as the MUST HAVE team pulled on one and the CANNOT AFFORD team pulled hard at the other end.
Oh, what an awful day.
I managed to get some work done, but kept updating the auction on my computer (a man obsessed) and later, when I went out for several hours, I kept updating the auction on my iPad.
The bids were not high. Yet. It helped, vastly, that the fixtures were not restored, and the gas arms had never been wired for electricity. All the glass shades were missing, too, and replacing these would be an alarming extra cost. Still, there was no question that a matched PAIR would carry a significant premium, likely enough to offset the lack of wiring and shades.
A man obsessed does not think clearly. And I started to wonder: MIGHT these beautiful twins be…possible?
The hours ticked by. The obsession grew. The lust was overpowering. The nausea was ready to knock me flat.
I had no choice. I just had to toss in a bid via an auction sniper service. This meant that at least during the last ten seconds of the auction my bid would go out. For, a truly terrifying thought had now occurred to me: what if the chandeliers sold cheap, AND I DID NOT EVEN BID?
This was a horror which would surely kill me.
I could not of course put in a large bid.
The nausea increased.
But bid I did, and then tried to step away to let the fates decide.
Tried. To. Step. Away.
Of course, I was unsuccessful, and kept refreshing my computer. The bids were still low, without much activity, but savvy bidders will only show up in the last ten seconds, as would my bid.
I clicked refresh, and clicked and clicked and clicked.
Then it was all over. Scroll way down…
I stared at the results.
Thirteen bids. A lot. But not a lot.
My eyes were watered up. I had to blink several times to clearly read the results.
The twins were…mine.
I was in shock. The finial price was WAY less than I ever would have expected.
Mine. And I could put the purchase on a credit card, thus not stealing monies from the last payment for the radiators.
THANK GOD I BID!
You know, being obsessed is gonna kill me.
But think how GORGEOUS the twins will look all rewired and shaded and resplendent in the Cross House?
Death vs.: beauty? Hummmm.
THE BAND OF SEVEN
As mentioned, there were thirteen bids. And seven bidders. This means that there were six other people out there, somewhere, who also lusted after the chandeliers.
I would love to meet these kindred spirits.