The Cross House

Pondering the Carriage House

 

1894. The double lot of the Cross property.

 

  1. The Cross House.
  2. The carriage house.
  3. The “barn”.

Around 1920s, the double lot was cut in half, and the carriage house/barn sold off.

The carriage house was moved a bit forward on the lot, the “barn” was severed, turned 90-degrees, and moved behind the carriage house. Then the whole was rebuilt as a proper house, with the second floor being transformed from a hayloft into four bedrooms.

 

But, let’s go back to the original configuration. The red circle? That is a 1-story porch. Egads! How I had I missed that? And that porch…

 

…was in this corner. Now, see the turret? See the blocked-over door on the north side? That used to access the roof of the circa-1920 L-shaped porch. But…was that door location original to the 1894 structure, allowing access to the roof of the 1894 1-story porch?

 

Now, while I am NOT going to do anything soon, realizing that there WAS a porch tucked in this corner has made me rethink how I will eventually finish the exterior of the carriage house.

I am now pondering putting a porch back in that location. I would have a pair of columns at the outside corner, and made to match the columns on the Cross House.

I would remove the circa-1920 west entry under the turret, and install a new entry around the corner where that small north window is now. Then, I would install some kind of window under the turret. Maybe I would put the small window there?

In short, the deck I built would be taken down (I would reuse all the bits for the rear deck). A new porch would be built in the corner, and with the new entry on the north wall.

All of this will require much pondering, and measured, detailed drawings. But my mind is very excited about this new direction!

Oh, wanna solve a mystery?

 

This is how the carriage house looked like when I purchased it. Click twice to enlarge. Now, see the first-floor railings? 

 

Those railings look just like the 1894 Cross House rails, but a bit taller. The railings however didn’t match the second-floor rails, which were very simple and very circa-1920. And the railing didn’t match the railings on the side of the first-floor porch:

 

See?

 

So…I always presumed that the front, first-level railings (which I have) were from the 1894 carriage house/barn structure, and from a long gone porch.

But…any porch would have been at ground level, as the whole structure sat on ground level with, presumably, a dirt floor. Thus, any porch, like the one circled in red, would have had no need for railings.

But…what if the red circled porch had a roof deck? Were the railings there? If so, then the door opening in the turret is likely original.

And…why are the presumed 1894 carriage house railings taller than the 1894 Cross House main porch railings? The rear porch of the Cross House had a railing, too, although only a few feet long. It is now in the basement. And it has spindles exactly the height of the presumed 1894 carriage house railings.

Golly. So much to ponder!

 

 

20 Responses to Pondering the Carriage House

  1. Wow, I think you solved a little mystery with the porch. And it makes more sense. I think the turret is suppose to be noticeable, not hidden by a porch. Yes, I would ponder this for a bit.

    • Yes, Dan, the turret was highly visible originally. There is an indication that under the turret there was originally a sliding barn door.

      • I thought I remembered some evidence of there being a sliding barn door under the turret. I like the idea of moving the porch and swapping the current front door with the little window, but I wonder if there is any indication (inside or out) of where the presumed original “regular” door was located. Might it have been on the “front” side of the house, leading into what is now the living room?

  2. I’m trying to think about the other Squires properties in town, and if they have turrets like the one on the carriage house. Though knowing Squires’ eccentric style and his penchant for the unique, there might not be. I’ll let you know if I think of anything. In the meantime, I look forward to reading your musings as you solve The Puzzle of the Porches.

  3. Are there any scars on the building to show the original position of the railings / porch prior to the 1920s alterations?

  4. Could there have been a simple main floor foyer or stair hall to the servants’ quarters above? On a place as fancy as yours I’d imagine some separation from the dirt and smell of horses.

    I’d say pry off the interior trim on that second floor door to the outside and see if it looks built that way or put in the 20’s, but given the main house sun porch was accessed by a window, who could know?

    • Jakob, it is likely that the second floor of the carriage house was originally a hayloft.

      All the dormer windows are part of the circa-1920 conversion. The turret is original. It’s unknown if its interior was finished or not.

      • I’d always thought given the older style of the upstairs it was always living space, especially given the absence of servants’ quarters in the main house. Could the upstairs have made sense as living space sans dormers? Perhaps more windows at the back there the addition now attaches? I could definitely see the area over the current kitchen as hayloft, but the level of finish upstairs that seems to predate downstairs makes me think it could have been a few rooms for servants.

        The 1900 census could tell how many people lived on the (then one) property.

      • I found an answer on this web page “FIMo – How to Interpret Sanborn Maps” under the section “NARRATIVE DESCRIPTION-RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES, No. 4 John Avenue” as stated “The roof is wood covered with wood shingles, as indicated by the small cross in the right hand corner. Wood roofs are never specifically noted unless they are the only exception to an otherwise fire-resistive building.”

  5. Here’s another point towards the roof deck hypothesis: the small window to the left of the carriage house front door(the window facing north) is set lower than its identical twin to the right of the front door for no apparent reason that I can see. So maybe the reason it was set lower was to allow for a roof deck as you hypothesize? Otherwise, why would it have been set lower than the other window?

    • Hi, Alex!

      The small window to the right of the front door is higher because of the stair landing (which it lights).

      Also, ALL the windows (save the ones on the turret) are part of the circa-1920 conversion.

  6. If the door was around the corner onto a small porch it would be facing the Cross House servants entrance. When the carriage house was moved forward and converted into a house they needed a more impressive entrance facing the street.
    I can’t wait for the next update

  7. I really like the idea of tucking the porch into that corner and moving the entrance door to open there. I think it would give a more balanced front facade, and let the turrent remain a focal point, standing proud of the main wall. The current porch underneath the turret saps some of that emphasis.

    An entry door located where the tall cottage/piano window is would flow very well with your entry foyer. The piano window could be relocated to the current entry door location, although I have a feeling it would look odd with the short window beside the stairs just down the wall. A taller window may look better.

    I presume the turret would have had either supporting brackets, or decorative tin cove or other trimwork under it. I imagine you could take cues from the main house to replicate this. The final choice for this may also inform the window choice beneath it.

    I’m sure you’ll continue to discover more clues and evolve your plans as time goes on. I have a feeling it’s going to be a fun process 🙂

  8. If there was a roof deck, the railings would naturally be taller to prevent people from falling off. Though I can’t tell just how much taller they are.

  9. Is it possible that one set of railings was on the porch, and the other two wrapped around two sides of the porch roof?

  10. Hello Ross, Greetings from Scotland.

    I’ve been enjoying your blog now for the past several months and must congratulate you on your undertaking and endeavour on what must seem like an overwhelming project at times, yet one which you are clearly passionate and meticulous in pursuing.

    In respect to the issue of the porch on the Carriage House it does seem from looking at the Sanborn Map that just like the other single storey porches on the main house, obviously signified by the 1, to have been shingle roofed signified by the +.

    Thank you for this window in to your world.

  11. A looong time ago, I shared a picture I found on Google of an old carriage house with an octagonal turret cantilevered over the first floor, much like yours; I would share it again to help everyone visualize your finished structure, but can’t find it anywhere. I DID find a picture that may provide food for thought: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kimberly_Crest_carriage_house.jpg I know this is heresy, but….what if you extended the octagonal turret to ground level? It may have never been that way, but a lot of things about this building have been modified. Squires did not envision it in it’s present form when he designed a carriage house in 1894, so even if he is the one who redesigned it into a house, he was likely limited by the then-owner’s wishes and budget; he may have suggested a two-story turret, and grumbled under his breath when the customer remarked that it was a lot of money for something that was only cosmetic. Again, just something to chew on, as if you don’t already have a mouth full! 🙂

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