Let the Games Begin!

After much ado, the Heritage Grant work on the Cross House commences!

This week Groh & Sons began work on relining the built-in gutters. Groh was founded in 1918, and is almost as old as the Cross House.

The house has no visible gutters. The gutters are built into the prominent “cornices” of the house, with applied scroll-work designs. All the gutters feed into each other, and the house originally had no visible downspouts. One gutter fed into the next, which fed into the next, and on and on until the collected water fed into a huge cistern, which is extant and in great condition, although no longer used as such. I plan to reactivate this feature.

In the coming months Groh will also be installing new roofing on all the secondary roofs: the two towers, porches, porte-cochere, and rear extension. The main roof was re-roofed in the late 1920s with hexagon-shaped cementitious tiles. As these will last to the end of time, I am planning to leave them in place.

Repairing the gutters will fix a long long long-term problem with the house, and I am THRILLED that this vital work has begun. Although the work will not be visible, insidious damage caused by leaking gutters will be arrested. So, a big whoee!!!!!

The new roofing however will make a significant visual impact on the house. I am eager and rather breathless.


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The first step is to clean and wire-brush the old gutters.


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A job made MUCH easier by a…


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…bucket truck. Oh, how I long for a bucket truck. Oh, you know, it is my birthday next month…!


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Steve, working on the octagon tower. When the gutter is done, the roof will then be redone. I am desperate to find…



…a replacement for long-missing finial on the octagon tower. MUST FIND!


It seems hard to believe that by the end of the year, possibly quite sooner, the gutters will be doing their job of directing water AWAY from the house rather than INTO it, and that the decaying asphalt roofs and the decaying wood roof on the main tower will be all new and pretty.

Golly, what a difference it all will make. Golly!

Thank God for the Heritage Grant.

Long live the Heritage Grant.


  1. Tiffaney on January 29, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    You don’t want gutters to pour rain into your house? Picky picky.

    I agree those hex roof tiles are AMAZING. What a difference that will make. I do hope you find them.

    Can you please fill me in on the original use of the cistern? It was… before my time. And I somehow missed that lesson during my life time. I love when you explain things, so explain away (if you have time)!!

    • W on January 30, 2016 at 2:25 am

      I believe the cistern was connected to the house’s plumbing, and used for bathing, etc.

  2. Barb Sanford on January 29, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    I’d also like to know more about the cistern — what it’s for, and where it’s located in the house. I don’t remember you showing that to us when we toured it, about a year ago.

    You’ve done so much amazing work on the house in the past year. Emporia — and the Cross House — are lucky you came along.

  3. Sandra G. McNichol on January 29, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Wonderful news! Hurrah!! 🙂

  4. Cindi M on January 30, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Cisterns can be used for irrigation of newly planted trees. This spring might be a good time to put some in. Tiny trees are inexpensive and sometimes free from your state forestry dept. Tiny trees quickly become big trees, with proper care, like adequate watering (1″ per week of rain or 15gals water per tree). Some cities have an urban forestry division or volunteer groups, like Richmond (VA) Tree Stewards (www.richmondtreestewards.org).

  5. djd_fr on January 15, 2017 at 7:49 am

    A cistern is quite handy for watering in the garden. Sometimes in periods of drought there are restrictions, but you can still use your own water.
    We have one. It does need cleaned. And maybe it leaks….
    This house did not have indoor plumbing when we bought it. Breton farmhouse. 17th century.

  6. glenn on April 20, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    At the risk of being pedantic, that is not a bucket truck. It’s a platform lift.

    • Ross on April 20, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Thank you!

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