Puttering Away

In 1950, the Cross House was converted into a motel, and many many many pink bathrooms were added, including two in the library. One served the former, while the other served the parlor. In this image from 1999, Bob Rodak had removed the parlor bathroom. 


Yesterday. The pocket door in the library. Y’all have never seen these before. See the white vertical line on the left door? That is where the 1950 bathroom wall was.


What astounds me is that, during the 1950 conversion, the easy thing would have been to push the doors into their pockets, build a new infill wall, with a new door into the parlor bathroom.

Instead, they nailed the left pocket door closed and built a wall against it, carefully infilling with plaster were all the inset panels were! The right door then continued to be used as a bathroom door! When I purchased the house in 2014 one had to struggle mightily with the door to open/close it. I can’t image how irritating it was for any renter occupying the parlor as a motel room and later apartment.

Several years ago I removed all the pocket door trim pieces so the doors could be removed and their wheels rebuilt. Since then, all the trim pieces have been leaning against the adjacent wall and unfinished bookshelves. I would often bonk into some and they would fall to the floor.

Well, yesterday it poured rain which drove me inside and I decided to get all this trim re-installed!

At some point I will refinish the doors but will kinda miss the thin white line, for, it speaks of history.



  1. ArtistSusan on January 11, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    I remember seeing that white line in a previous post about the pocket doors. Nice to know what happened. I look forward to seeing that line erased and those doors fully restored.

    • john feuchtenberger on January 11, 2020 at 8:42 pm

      Yes, but… I dip-tanked (mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) several heart pine four-vertical panel doors that were heavily painted. Then I had to re-glue and clamp the rails and stiles back together. Over the 40+ years since, the floating panels have moved to modestly reveal a thin line of white or lavender as they expand and shrink seasonally. Like Ross, it kinda tickles me-a reminder of previous decor, and of my feeling my way into proper restoration technique. So soon old, so late smart.

  2. Leigh on January 11, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    Perhaps it was raining mightily as well when the previous artisans did the bathroom? Lots of time to plaster the pocket door. 😉

  3. Michael on January 11, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Sure it would have been easier to install a new door, but they’d have been hard pressed to find one that matched the rest of the parlor woodwork.

  4. Dan Goodall-Williams on January 11, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    Just incredible. Love all this.

  5. Kelly P. on January 11, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    The white line looks crooked . Was the wall out of plumb ? or was the door tilted .

  6. Mike on January 13, 2020 at 8:08 am

    Another interesting (and sometimes aggravating) thing about restoring an old house is finding where a non-original alteration was later removed, and you are left wondering WTF… Case in point are the two 3/4″ holes flanking a 2″ hole in our rear parlor floor; I know that they were for the water supplies and drain of a long-ago but non-original sink, but they are in the middle of the room! There are no traces to show that the room was ever divided, so I am left wondering if someone just decided it would be nice to have a place to wash up in the middle of the family room…

  7. Anne L Taylor on January 13, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Ross, i have long been curious about your bookshelves in the library. i am restoring / renovating a 1863 colonial revival large parlour into a lounge, tv, library type room and struggle to decide what to use for the book shelves. the room has 4 large windows and 2 doors, so not much room to play with either.

    Can you tell us about the bookshelves?

  8. Kim on January 15, 2020 at 8:56 am

    I find the subtle difference in finish on the long hidden portion of door interesting. It’s lack of uv exposure & historical grime is quite telling. I prefer the origional, lighter finish to the slightly darker look of the “working” door. The darker finish seems heavy while, the lighter wood feels warm & inviting – the way I like my libraries.
    You know Ross, as you clean up & refinish the doors, you could always float a millimeter thin, lavender, Tiffany blue or, silver line between the top layers of shelac. Libraries are all about history. 😉

    • Ross on January 15, 2020 at 10:22 am

      Kim, both doors have later layers of shellac on them, which darkens over time.

      Bot doors will get refinished and will get much lighter.

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