Resurrecting the Butler’s Pantry

So, my last post was about repairing my karma.

I am going to reverse a change I made two years ago, a change which entailed removing a portion of the original butler’s pantry along its west wall.

The bits which were removed were stored with the idea that a later owner could reverse my decision, but now, rather unexpectedly, I am that owner. The change had been made after two years of deliberation as it seemed vital to significantly improve the traffic flow of the house, from 1894 flow to 21st-century flow.

But then…I changed my mind.


Justin knocking through the west wall.


Today, I tacked into place the parts removed two years ago. The missing drawer is with Dr. Doug, as he is creating two more to replace drawers removed many decades ago to the far left. The other missing drawer, also far left, is in the basement being refinished, as is the missing door to the right.


Dr. Doug has a couple of other bits with him, too. Thus, the only bits missing are those two small squares just above the six drawers (to left and right). See? But I can easily fill in those small cut-outs (which were made so the counter could be removed).

When all is done, there will be little evidence that anything was ever removed. And when long-lost bits on the south wall (to the far left the above image) are recreated, the pantry will actually be in more original condition than when I purchased the house.


The door I created in the west wall, taken from the south long hall. I have the base moulding, the Lincrustra, and the trim atop the Lincrusta. 


I plan to infill the opening with plaster on lath. When this is done, there should, again, be very little evidence that anything was ever changed.

A part of this project will be to recreate the eccentric “arch” which was removed before I purchased the house:


I discovered the south hall “arch” after I created the new door in the pantry (see here). The wood door frame right behind the arch was not original and is also long gone. See the gold trim on the “arch”?


This was found in the basement Aladdin’s Cave.


All of it!!!!!!!!


Recreating the lost “arch” was one of the motivations for reversing the change I made to the butler’s pantry. It will be quite the thrill seeing it return!

Dr. Doug will have the new bits in a few weeks, so the pantry will be lookin’ good soon! Of course, it will take time to do all the refinishing but one day, one day, the pantry will be akin to….


…a Fabergé egg: small, precious, and exquisite. But in wood.






  1. Anthony Bianchini on January 12, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    Seems like a a lot of “re-work.” But, I do get the reasoning.

    • Ross on January 12, 2019 at 11:25 pm

      What price beauty?

  2. A.H. on January 13, 2019 at 12:48 am

    I love this decision! The butler’s pantry is one of the innermost areas of the house, and making it so public with the door felt wrong.

  3. Miriam R Righter on January 13, 2019 at 6:38 am

    I had really questioned your initial decision, and am thrilled that you are returning your butler’s pantry to its original state. Every time I work in my kitchen, I bemoan not having a pantry, much less a butler’s pantry with all the different types of storage space! I think you will find, once you are living in the house, that all the shelves, drawers, and cupboards come in so handy! Kudos to you for doing such exquisite renovation!

  4. Dan Goodall-Williams on January 13, 2019 at 7:07 am

    You have made the correct decision. It will be stunning. I still think you should think about taking on a younger apprentice or 2 to help move things along slightly quicker. Your talent to detail should be passed on, not just through your blog. Just my little opinion.

  5. Nancy from Georgia on January 13, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Hooray for you, Ross!! I applaud you for your attention to detail and your commitment to the original architecture. It takes a crazy person to go to these lengths to preserve the past. Thanks for being crazy! I hope to come see you and the Cross house on my way to Wisconsin this summer!

  6. Acronym Jim on January 14, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    It’s too bad you don’t have the original blueprints of the first floor. I’ve often wondered if the library wasn’t originally designed to be the dining room, (and vice versa) but the functionality and structural designs changed to accommodate some other functionality (i.e. stairs to the basement from the main hall, and/or improved flow by opening and lengthening the South Hall into the Stair Hall. It seems odd to have what would have basically been the private office space of the day open to the parlor while the dining room was separate from it.

    • Ross on January 14, 2019 at 4:42 pm

      Hi, Jim!

      There is no question that the current dining room is the original dining room. It is adjacent to the butler’s pantry, has a built-in china cabinet, and the stained-glass has eating motifs (wine and fruit).

      The library MIGHT have been a second parlor as was common but the masculine-style mantel indicates that it was likely a library.

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