The Cross House

Murphy Beds! Everywhere!

The original second floor of the 1894 Cross House. In actually, there were some minor differences between this plan and what was built.

 

In 1929, Scott Mouse transformed the second floor into apartments. The most significant alteration was the shrinking of the expansive staircase. This change lasted until 2014 when I recreated the original size. Note the FOUR Murphy beds: in the Round bedroom, Hexagon bedroom, Sewing room (middle), and Long bedroom (upper right).

 

In 1950, the younger Scott Mouse transformed the Cross House into the Palace Motel. The Murphy beds were removed although their wood cabinets remained, turn into closets. Two such closets remained when I purchased the house: the Long bedroom, and a narrow such cabinet in the hall (which appeared to have been placed in the location rather than installed). The other cabinets (armoires, really) had been dismantled and placed on the third floor.

For five years now I’ve had no idea of just how many of the cabinets were actually dismantled. Three? Four? More?

Then, yesterday, Justin suggested returning the Sewing room cabinet to its original location, and making it, again, a Murphy bed. FABULOUS idea!

 

This pile was confirmed as the Sewing room cabinet.

 

And the precise original location of the cabinet was obvious.

 

And — drum roll, please — today I returned the cabinet to its original location!!!!!!!!

 

Left: the dismantled Long bedroom cabinet. Right: the hall cabinet. I dismantled both in 2014. The latter appeared to have been placed in the hall from some other location. It is too narrow to have housed a Murphy bed, and was, I believe, a closet. But in what room had it been originally?

 

A second “petite” cabinet was discovered. It’s top is to the left. Where had these two “petites” been originally? When the house was transformed into a motel, the parlor and library became motel rooms. Were these two cabinets placed in these rooms as closets?

 

On the south wall of the Round bedroom it is, again, obvious where the Murphy bed cabinet had been.

 

The Round bedroom cabinet. Its top is standing in the middle, but the doors were nowhere to be found. Then Justin and I were wandering about the second-floor trying to fixture out wiring. In the bathroom to the Hexagon bedroom, he pointed in a corner and said: “Aren’t those the doors to the Round bedroom cabinet?” Why yes. Yes they were. I had no idea they were there, which is REALLY unlike me.

 

The 1929 plan again. See how the Hexagon bedroom had a kitchen installed, a breakfast nook, and a Murphy bed? All that was long ago swept away, and I was uncertain if all this had ever been installed but for…

 

…these pipes sticking out from the north wall. To the right is the drain pipe, and under are the hot/cold lines. To the left is the gas line for the stove.

 

The outline of the Round bedroom cabinet. Note the smaller rectangle in the middle. That must have been the mechanism for the Murphy bed, which was screwed to the floor, and which would also indicate a single mattress rather than a full. This would mean that the 1929 apartments were intended for singles, something I had never considerer previously. Well, that would make sense. For, I cannot imagine living with another person 24/7 in a single room. Several cats, yes; another human, no.

 

Now, I just need to find a single Murphy bed frame to fit inside the Sewing room cabinet!

 

 

12 Responses to Murphy Beds! Everywhere!

  1. More fascinating discoveries!

    I am yet again astounded at how much stuff was left behind, despite so many years and lives that house has lived.

  2. Murphy beds are awesome! I had a modern one in my Manhattan Studio a several years ago. It kept me from feeling like I lived in a hotel room…. They also conjure up a lot of memories.

    Back in the days of yore… When I was a mere 21 years old (1986) I moved from California to Seattle with two suitcases, a sleeping bag, and $400 to my name. Two days later I put down $275 on a “furnished” studio apartment in a 1905 building which had a functioning Murphy bed. It was a monster of a mechanism made up of angle-iron and cast iron parts. I was terrified every day that the big spring would snap when I folded it up. Good times, good times…

    The following year I moved into a two room studio from 1902 down the street with a friend for which we paid a total of $280 per month. It was a unique set up, there was an entry hall, living room, dining room, and kitchen. The bathroom and walk-in closet were both off of the entry hall and elevated about 24 inches above the rest of the apartment. In the living room was a large built in secretary desk on the shared wall with the bathroom and at the bottom was a large panel with a handle which when pulled out, revealed a double size bed which slides under the bathroom. The dining room had a beautiful built in hutch which also had a pull out bed (from under the walk in closet). The 500 square foot two room apartment could fit a family of four when it was built. This was ideal for my roommate and I as the original pocket doors between the dining room and living room were still functional. Another amazing quirk about the apartment was the combination gas electric light in the kitchen which still had gas connected to it. We used to sometimes light the gas light with the simple turn of the knob and a match. I also remember that we needed a box of matches to light the stove and oven, as well as the literal hundreds of cockroaches we had to contend with every day. Good times, good times…

    We were poor, but we made the best of things and I have many fond memories of that period of life.
    This was also a time before Seattle was cool and hip. That neighborhood is now completely gentrified and very pricey.

    • Fantastic stories indeed. Thanks for sharing!

      I admire quirky construction and details like that. The elevated floor reminds me a bit of the FLW Dana Thomas House in Springfield, IL, which has a bedroom floor elevated to provide storage beneath it (accessible through doors disguised in the wainscot panels on the large hall adjacent).

      I really hope your former places are extant, especially the sliding beds. Those sound delightful.

    • Sounds like Capitol Hill! I shared a one-bedroom with two other guys there when I was 18-19, not a lot of breathing room but better than the dorms and no pesky RA to bust the parties. I even looked at a few apartments with the aforementioned hidden bed compartments…but it usually meant the bathroom ceilings were too short to take a decent shower. It was so cheap then, now the boyfriend is paying a little over $2,000 for a one-bedroom in a 1929 building.

      • Capitol Hill indeed! I lived along the Pike/Pine corridor from ’86-’88 and again from ’92-’99. Those were good times, but gentrification wiped all the quirkiness away and cleansed it of character. I fled to Chicago when my rent for a two room studio reached $680 (1999). I would guess it to be at least twice that now.
        [Ross, Sorry for highjacking your comments 🤪🤪]

  3. Hi Ross! It’s always fascinating to see how you’re able to solve all the mysteries in the Cross House. Great sleuthing there Ross!
    BTW,I don’t think you have ever shown pictures of the bathrooms in the round and hexagon bedrooms. Have they also been gutted or are the floors and fixtures from 1928, 1950, or some later “update”?

  4. Is it possible that the two petite closets were built from the original murphy bed cabinet in the Hexagon bedroom? That seems to be the only one unaccounted for.

  5. I am wondering if the Murphy bed cabinets have the same shellac finish as the old woodwork. I would be tempted to try your cleaning technique on a section. I Know, No. No. No, no, NO!

  6. Saw this clip from “STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE” on you tube. This scene with Vivien Leigh and Karl Malden made me think of you and the Cross House. Can you guess why?

Leave a Response

Your email address will NEVER be made public or shared, and you may use a screen name if you wish.