The Cross House

Putting Bits Back

The servant’s hall in the Cross House, like all the rooms in the house, is a wreck. But, its appearance notwithstanding, the small room is actually restorable. It retains its beadboard wainscoting and window trim. Sadly though, the previous owner cut out sections of the wainscoting (under the windows) so he could spray in insulation. I will reconstruct these areas.


For the whole time I have owned the house, the top-most trim of the wainscot was missing (upper right). Last November, I emptied out the Aladdin’s Cave in the basement and found a pile of such trim all taped together. Was this the missing servant’s hall trim? Well, it was! The trim all fitted back perfectly, and I particularly enjoy how the trim is coped to fit around the window sills. Nice!


Amazingly, all the trim bits were found, including these small bits which wrap around the arched opening between the kitchen and servant’s hall. Whoee!


The trim and wainscoting and window trim are all CAKED with paint. The original finish appears, I think, to be a painted finish, and in a nutmeg-kinda color. I will have this analyzed to confirm the original finish and will recreate the results.

I am eager to remove all the caked-on white paint.

Oh-so-eager. For, fewer things vex me quite like caked-on-paint.


11 Responses to Putting Bits Back

  1. I love it when you put things back. It’s somehow very satisfying. I wonder who started the Aladin’s cave? Was it the previous owners or did it go back farther than that?

  2. So remarkable odds & ends resurface — also Bob sometimes moved items off site to other properties— any additional obscure pieces could also be returned. The finding lost bits is so satisfying! Barb — so funny — Tetris play —haha— serving a purpose.

  3. There is nothing better than finding the last piece in a puzzle. Congratulations again!

    I know the feeling that you have expressed. Recently, i furnished and made a guest room out of the 3rd floor rear bedroom which is in the original servants quarters. One goes down two steps from the stair landing, through one room and then up one step into the bedroom. I did have a guest to stay, but the bedroom had no door. The doorway at the landing did have a door, so my guest could just close that. Unfortunately, it was clearly a later addition because none of the hardware matched so it wasn’t possible to latch it.

    One day, perhaps thanks to your posts, I wondered if the door from the landing, which was much more primitive in construction than the other doors off of the halls and stair landings, would fit the guest room doorway. As you can guess, this random width bead board door fit perfectly. I had to take a sharp chisel to the paint at the top and bottom of the hinge mortises, and they fit right in. The hardware matched too. Unfortunately the door would not close because the house had settled about a quarter inch on the latch side of the door. After an unsuccessful attempt to solve this problem by fooling around with a house jack and posts in the room below, I took the top of the original trim off. The door closed, but the latch was still a quarter inch higher than the keeper in the jamb. I have decided to take off that leg of the trim too, and reinstall it 1/4 ” higher. If in future, when I have done some work leveling the whole first floor from the basement, I may have to move it back down. I hope so, because I would rather have the trim in its original place. This happened this past week and you can imagine how often I have patted myself on the back since then. I am also grateful to you and the community that you have created, for the overflow from the positive energy that they have fed to you.

    Many thanks to every person who has put positive comments on this site. Your remarks have helped to keep me going on my house restoration in times that have sometimes been tough as well as in the good times. I hope that some of mine have helped you.

    • Here, here!! I couldn’t agree with you more, Stewart! I am working on restoring my own 1886 Queen Anne, and I have learned so much from Ross and the good folks that follow him. I’ve also been inspired, and pushed to move outside my comfort zone when making decisions; because of the Cross House, my own house will be changing this summer from gray with white trim to a two-tone light/dark green with dark red, copper, and gold accents. A few years ago, I would not have had the nerve to do that. I remarked once that Ross is sort of like Forrest Gump, running across the country, and we are all running along behind him wondering where he is leading us. Some day he will finish the Cross House restoration, and might announce “I’m done restoring now…” and we’ll all be like, “Really?? WTF?” 🙂

  4. It’s so exciting when you find original pieces of your house in storage somewhere. What a great find. We are restoring our 1860’s house with 4 additions added in the 1880’s and 1890’s. In the crawl space underneath the front parlor we found extra panels that fit under the windows, brackets for the front porch, cedar shakes, an extra piece of decorative grating from the top of the tower and two different style fence posts. What an amazing feeling.

  5. Mmm… the old, heavyweight beadboard – sturdy stuff. It’s an understatement to say:”they don’t make it like that anymore!”

    I’ve just mainlined this entire blog, start-to-finish in the past few weeks, and promised myself I wouldn’t post a comment until I completely caught up. Ha- I got to the end of the rug-struggle, fell off the dream cliff, and landed in the kitchen!

    Sir Ross, your sincerity, your sense of integrity, and artistic endeavor, help to instill a greater sense of caring and connection for most anyone reading your blog. I think it is necessary to know others really DO strive to make things just a bit better. I think you are restoring a lot more than a lovely home. Thank you.

    Looking forward to the coming year! 🌻

  6. I’ve been working nights as a stripper since the first of the year, and I am very proud of my success! No, I don’t dance in a fat man club, I have a new favorite toy! It’s the Speedheater Cobra infrared stripper, and it is awesome! I gave just over $500 with shipping, but it is worth it when you are doing a whole big house like I am. I wear a N100 mask (around $10), but this thing doesn’t get hot enough to vaporize the lead paint. It almost eliminates the chance of scorching the wood when used properly, and it does a good job of getting paint out of carved surfaces. It took a little practice to get my groove down, so I started on plain trim in the laundry room before moving to the kitchen. I know this sounds like a commercial, but I am just really happy with it…no more caked-on paint for me, just brilliant, crisp details!!

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