The Cross House

Revisiting…the Carriage House

After purchasing the Cross House and its carriage house in 2014, both structures received work.

With the latter, it mostly involved tearing out obviously non-original alterations.

At the time, I was only dimly aware of who architect Charles Squires was, and had been told that he did not design the carriage house. Indeed, I had been told that the carriage house was, in fact, not even the carriage house, but a proper house built decades later to mimic the Cross House.

Golly. I’ve come a long way since.

Today, I know:

  • The structure was built as a carriage house to the Cross House.
  • Around 1920, it was legally separated from the Cross House and sold off, relocated forward on the lot, and rebuilt as a proper house.
  • These changes were likely designed by Charles Squires.

In short, today, I see the carriage house in a very different way than I did in 2014.

 

You have never seen this picture. One walks into a spacious foyer, and before a wide cased opening to the enormous living room, The opening had two low walls to each side (the one on the right we already removed), topped by short columns, which sat under large oak brackets. And…I tore all this out in 2014.

 

Here is an image from before I purchased the carriage house.

 

I know. I know. You are thinking: Had Ross lost his mind? WHY did remove all this?

Well……….because it all seemed so odd. The low plywood walls were obviously not original (being clearly 1970s), which made the columns and brackets suspect, too.

It all seemed like a 1970s alteration to make the carriage house more “Victorian” which was actually a big thing in the 1970s. I am old enough to remember!

I had visions of hippies in the carriage house, totally stoned, and saying: “Cool. let’s do it!” Then they found some salvaged brackets and columns.

Far out, man! Far out!

 

Scott is removing a column. Note the oak bracket, upper left.

 

There were two brackets, one to each side.

 

In removing all these seemingly cobbled-together 1970s hippie alterations, two things soon became apparent. Two alarming things:

 

Yikes! The brackets WERE original to the circa-1920 conversion of the carriage house into a proper house. This was obvious because, with the brackets removed, the pine under had never been varnished. Oh. Oh!

 

While the two low walls were unquestionably 1970s, once they were removed a ghost outline of almost identical low walls could be ascertained on the pine side trim. Oh. Oh!

 

OK, this was confusing. So, there were low walls originally? But these were replaced in the 1970s by almost identical low walls? Huh? Why?

After some thought only one conclusion could be reached: During the circa-1920 conversion, the wide cased opening into the living room did have low walls (later replaced), and did have the oak brackets. The columns? They, too, were likely in place.

 

The columns were each topped with a brass fitter for a glass light shade. These looked circa-1920. Were they?

 

Oh, yes.

 

In 2014, this curious juxtaposition seemed, without question, like cobbled-together 1970s hippie oddness. Today? It all seems very…

 

…Charles Squires. The man loved juxtaposing elements, and he adored the Scamozzi capital, as shown here. He even used this type capital on his own house a block away.

 

Quickly, I had to reassess my assumptions.

The 1970s low walls were discarded. The columns and brackets were put aside, as they have remained sever since.

I have yearned to put all this Squires weirdness back in place but new low walls had to be built. And the Cross House just sucks up all my energy.

By some miracle though….

(scroll way down)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…I managed to eke out some brain space, and Dr. Doug, once again, has come to the rescue!!!!!!!!

 

The new low walls are based on careful measurements of the ghost outline on the pine side trim. A particular effort was made to assure that the grain pattern matched the adjacent original trim.

In a few weeks I will pick up the walls and install them in the carriage house. The BIG project will be getting the stain to match the adjacent trim.

Then I can put the columns back in place, install wheel-cut glass globes above, and re-attach the oak brackets!

Stay tuned to this channel for more excitement!

 

 

25 Responses to Revisiting…the Carriage House

  1. You have been so fortunate to have nearly all the pieces and parts of the original bits of the Cross House painstakingly hoarded away for you to put back all these years later. My question: Did you likewise save the pieces and parts you removed from the carriage house? Or were they, gasp, discarded to the rubbish pile?

  2. OMG! This is one of the most exciting finds in some time (at least for me). I am holding my breath until these short walls and columns can be put back in place and finished. Understandably, the carriage house is not nearly as ornate as the Cross House herself, but still I think it has enough originality (based on my previous tour) to be returned to a really unique and beautiful home of it’s own. I am so excited for you, but at the same time a bit disappointed. When I saw the picture of the bracket, I was expecting you to say was not original and would not be re-used and I was deciding how outrageous my offer would need to be to buy them. Dreaming of what a beautiful clock shelf I could make using them as the supports. Oh, well, better to replace them where they rightfully belong. Congrats on a wonderful discovery.

  3. Wow! This is fun! I’m so happy that the cased opening will be restored… the 70’s plywood facsimile just looked cheap, but Dr. Doug’s re-creation looks amazing. Can’t wait to see it all in place! Mr. Squires would be so pleased…

  4. Thanks for sharing the oopses along with the insights. Helps me learn, too. And WOW I can hardly wait to see how the new low walls look in the context of the room!

  5. Wow, cool discoveries! My favorite part about your blog is how you painstakingly sleuth out the history and changes from the myriad of little clues the house has to show you, and take us right along on your journey of learning and discovery. It’s so much more engaging, interesting, and inspiring than if you presented yourself as an expert who knew everything at the beginning.

    The carriage house is particularly interesting because it’s not a simple case of restoring exactly what was “original” when it was built. The house isn’t either, but it much closer to a pure restoration. The carriage house requires more interpretation and decisions on how to respect the history, along with the many changes over time.

    I can’t wait for the next installment!

  6. Hi, the carriage house seems closer to finished than the main house. Have you thought about moving in there temporarily to be closer to the big house? I know cat fence and other considerations apply. It just might be easier on you not to have to commute so much. Many considerations. . . those new side walls look really great. Great work!

    • Hi, Derek!

      I have thought of moving into the carriage house as an interim measure. The problem though is, yes, the lack of a finished cat fence.

      And, I need to also move with me my zillion lights. Most of these will get stored in the basement of the Cross House. But…eek…storing so many lights while I am still doing plumbing and electrical in the basement is, ahh, problematic.

      • Yes, moving the fixtures. . . that is quite an upcoming task. We moved about a year ago, and it is indeed pretty terrible! I just can’t wait for things to be a bit easier for you. Although, the drive to and from may be a good decompression exercise. That can be beneficial too. Keep up the good work!

  7. Given that the carriage house was remodeled around 1920, the eclectic nature of this opening makes senses. It nicely captures the transition between Victorian-era grilles and Craftsman-era colonnades. My favorite part is that the ionic capitals are turned at 45 degree angles… delightfully Squiresesque!

  8. Wow, how you have the time! This is awesome too, how you look at all the little clues that tell you what is, what was.
    Looking forward to your books!

  9. Was wondering about the Carriage House the other day and what you plans were for it. Last I read you used it for storage? Are you looking at renting it out

    • Hi, Linda!

      The poor carriage house is basically moth-balled.

      I am not happy about this, but my focus is on finishing the exterior of the Cross House. Once that is done (I hope at the end of this year) I can turn my attention back to the carriage house.

  10. The Carriage House has always intrigued me. Ross, just in case I will not have the opportunity to personally tour your houses, I have to ask, do you plan to rebuild the porch exactly as it was? Without that porch, she’s like a woman who has lost her smile.

  11. Hurry up, I can’t wait to see the finished project. This is one of my favorite interior architectural applications. Also, Ross I am 67 years old and I’m wondering if I’ll be around when “Oopses and Insights” hits the stands because I’d love to read it!

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