The Ark

In 2015 the Cross House was awarded a Kansas Heritage Trust grant of $90,000. This grant was used to reline all the built-in gutters, restore about 80% of the 42 stained-glass windows, restore some clear-glass windows, replace missing exterior siding, shingle all the secondary roofs, and replace the rotted sill and water-table.

Last November I submitted a second grant request for $87,000. This was for completing the remaining stained-glass and clear-glass windows, restoring the columns on the south facade, replacing missing siding on the south facade, painting the south facade, and repointing the towering north chimney.

With such work completed the Cross House will FINALLY be protected from the weather, and no longer will wind and rain and even snow find their way inside. Glory hallelujah! And of vast importance will be the fact that, with the house finally tight against the elements, I can move in!!!!!!!!


While the west facade looks pretty good (OK, it looks glorious!) the south facade…


…looks scary bad…


…and more scary bad. Sigh.


EEK! The columns holding up the porte cochère are terrifying.


EEK! The column “bases” are even more terrifying!


EEK! In 1894 there were two columns in this location, not one column and one 2×4. The porch ceiling is mildew rather than rot. Thank goodness.


EEK! In 1894 there were two columns here. Not two 6×6 posts.


EEK! There are a lot of missing shingles on the south facade.


EEK! This is SO not good.


EEK! This area was so bad that I covered it with tar paper.


The 2017 grant application would restore everything you see above.

But…would I be approved????????

Yesterday I presented my case to the grant committee. This was nerve-wracking.

There were almost 40 applicants, asking for about $3 million total. But only about $700,000 was available. So,the grant is incredibly competitive.

My friend Carl was there. To my surprise. He submitted a grant for his gorgeous pile in Wichita, after my strong urging. But, he was not supposed to compete against me! “Carl! You are a brat!”

Upon sitting, I first quickly looked through the list of applicants. Whew. There were none from Lyon County, which, I hoped, helped my chances.

Many of the applicants spoke about the history of their building during their 3-minute allotted time. But with so little money available the grant is decided upon by a triage basis. So, when it came my time to speak (#30) I focused on the urgency of the work rather than history.

After finishing, I asked Carl how I did. He replied: “I thought we we all going to need an Ark!”

This baffled me.

“You were so dramatic! Wind! Collapsing chimneys! High winds tearing off roofs! It was breathless!”

Was this good? I wasn’t sure.

I retained almost no memory of speaking, which was weird, but nervousness can do that. I did recall my dramatic finale:


During my presentation two years before, I brought with me this tragic stained-glass window, and  at the end of my time, and with some fanfare, pulled off the sheet covering it. Everybody gasped. Yesterday, I brought in the same window. But, I had a poster made of the above image, which I taped over the window. At the end of my presentation yesterday I pulled off the sheet covering the window, revealing the above image. I explained what they were looking at. Then I dramatically tore the poster away, revealing…


…this. Carl said the effect was intense. And moving. “I was looking for a Kleenex!” I told the committee that I wanted them to see the results of their work.


After, I was just demolished, and fled Topeka.

Would I be approved?

Would I be approved?

Would I be approved?

And, what if I was approved but not for the full amount? I mean, maybe they might just approve $10,000 for repointing the north chimney?

Still, I felt a bit hopeful. The many images I included in the formal application made clear the highly alarming conditions affecting the Cross House. Also, the first grant monies were well spent and the work done well.

But still. Would I be approved?

I knew the website for the grant would update with the 2017 results. Saturday afternoon? Monday?

This morning, early, I was talking with my friend Patricia on the phone and telling her about this. I explained that I had the grant website open on my computer, and would start to refresh after lunch. While continuing to talk I, without thinking, clicked refresh.

Oh. Oh! OH!




I gasped. I choked up. My eyes filled with tears.

“Ross! Are you OK? What is wrong????????” Patricia pleaded.

I could not speak.

“Ross! ARE YOU OK?”

With a warbled voice I explained.

Patrica shrieked.

And then I did, too.




  1. Ruth Anne on February 4, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Happyhappyhappy dance!!!!!

    • Ross on February 4, 2017 at 7:04 pm

      I am dancin’ right with ya’!

  2. Mary on February 4, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Congratulations!!!! So wonderful that money is available to restore treasures like this! The work that’s done looks amazing. Can’t wait to see the south side. What will you do about the other 2 sides? Are they done?

    • Ross on February 4, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      Most of the damage to the north facade has been repaired. It mostly just needs the painting completed, which will be this spring.

      The damage to the east facade was repaired as part of the 2015 grant.

  3. Krystal on February 4, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    WONDERFUL! Truly an awesome announcement!!!! Congratulations!

    • Krystal on February 4, 2017 at 7:06 pm

      I’d say that is a pretty satisfying Birthday present, eh! A dance – and cake!

  4. Marti on February 4, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS! So happy for you and the Cross House!

    • Ross on February 4, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      Thank you! I would have gone into an emotional tailspin had they said no! And I do not even want to think about the additional damage to the Cross House which would have ensued.

  5. Seth Hoffman on February 4, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Congrats, and great job! I’m sure your careful stewardship of the previous year’s grant, your dedication to the restoration, and vivid illustration of these facts helped make your case easier.

    I can’t wait to see the work unfold this year!

  6. Erin Benn on February 4, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    I had no idea this would end with such thrilling news!!! Whooooooohoooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Julia on February 4, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Congratulations to you and the Cross house! I hope Carl doesn’t give up and tries again next year…

    • Ross on February 4, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Carl got a grant, too! $40K! He is the Wey Mansion.

      • Julia on February 4, 2017 at 8:17 pm

        Oh good! I was looking for Wichita on the list! Double congratulations!

    • Julia on February 4, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      Oh good! I was looking for Wichita on the list! Double congratulations!

  8. Lisa on February 4, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Congratulations! I wish we could have seen that presentation!

  9. Drew on February 4, 2017 at 8:03 pm


  10. Christy B on February 4, 2017 at 8:06 pm


  11. Lea on February 4, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Congratulations, Ross, well done. Your meticulous preparation and presentation garnered one of the highest grants. A wonderful birthday present from the Kansas Heritage Grant and from the universe. More blessings to you.

  12. Sharol on February 4, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    This is incredible and fantastic news. So very happy for you!

  13. Mary Garner-Mitchell on February 4, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    Such wonderful news, Ross! Adding my congrats to all the others. Your passion is contagious!

  14. Michele on February 4, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    Shrieking here too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cannot wait to see all this wonderful work done! Congratulations

  15. Carla Windsor Brown on February 4, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    PHENOMENAL! I will be checking anxiously whenever I am home to see your progress! Congrats!

  16. Jim on February 4, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Way to go Wiz! Looking forward to this year’s progress at the Cross House.

  17. Francesca Gove Orr on February 4, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    I’m crying, I’m totally crying!


  18. Brandy on February 4, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Oh, you got it! Yay! And a little piece of the world is made right????

  19. Vicki F on February 4, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    So nice to hear some good news in the midst of all the bad in this crazy, crazy world. Many Congratulations – you have to know we (faithful followers) were pulling for you!

    • Ross on February 4, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      Attached to the grant application were truly inspiring letters of support from the readers of this blog.

      There is no doubt in my mind that these made a difference.

      • john feuchtenberger on February 5, 2017 at 9:14 pm

        I wish I could have seen the presentation. Kudos to your eloquence and sense of drama, deservedly rewarded (maybe a touch of Blarney in your Scots heritage?) A privilege, shared with scores of other readers, to take pen (well, pixel) in hand to support in a small way your great achievements.

  20. Stephanie on February 4, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    This was so great to read! Keep up the good work, your passion shines through in every post.

  21. Celeste on February 5, 2017 at 1:25 am

    What joy! This is easily the best news of 2017! Happy, happy birthday, Ross! Congratulations!

  22. Pamela Miller Laboy on February 5, 2017 at 6:22 am

    I am so happy for you Ross. There could be no better steward for the Cross House.

    Thanks to Kansas also for continuing to sponsor such an important grant program.

    • Ross on February 5, 2017 at 7:44 am

      Thank you, Pamela!

      The Heritage Trust Grant is, indeed, an important program, and I am unaware of anything similar in other states.

      A reason to buy old houses in Kansas!

  23. Cindi M on February 5, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Wonderful news! Congratulations, Ross and Cross House. Great news for us, too, to see all that you document.

    Now for the Kansas legislature: may the Lord make you work together for the people, putting aside petty concerns of party and ego, to show the rest of the nation what can be done. (And Lord, please help the Virginia legislature as well.)

    • Mary Garner-Mitchell on February 5, 2017 at 8:29 am

      Amen, Cindi M! I went online last night in search of a heritage grant source in Virginia to no avail. Sadly, it seems, despite the historic preservation efforts by Virginia through the years most available funds are restricted to non-profits organizations, historic districts and institutions, not individuals. What I would give to have the opportunity to apply for such a grant like the one available to Ross and his friends in Kansas.

      • Ross on February 5, 2017 at 8:41 am

        Move to Kansas!

        Carl knew nothing about the grant. When I first toured his immense and INCREDIBLE house, I could see that it needed help STAT.

        I urged him to apply. And was so happy he did. And was even happier he was rewarded!

        Last year I urged my friend Doug to apply. He, too, has a HUGE house. Decades ago, when he was a State Senator, he helped make the Heritage Trust a reality. But he had never applied to the grant! “It would seem self-serving,” he stated.

        I replied: “I think, after 25 friggin years, that you can finally apply and NO ONE will accuse you of being self-serving!”

        He applied. And got $90K.

        • Mary Garner-Mitchell on February 5, 2017 at 8:12 pm

          Doug must be a fine gentleman and statesman! Congrats to all of you!

  24. Alecia T. on February 5, 2017 at 9:07 am

    YES! YES! YES! YES! You and the Cross house are SO deserving!! This makes me happy and tears spring to my eyes! Woo hoo, Ross!!! I love following your blog and the revitalization of the Cross house. Your passion for it, is simply inspiring.

  25. Bethany Otto on February 5, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Oh Congratulations! Something goes right in the world, yay!

  26. Christine on February 5, 2017 at 9:42 am

    ♡ Congratulations!!

  27. Elin Noller on February 5, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Whoop! Gratulerar!

    • Ross on February 5, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      I see what you did there! Smooth!

      • Elin Noller on February 6, 2017 at 7:50 am

        I knew I could count on you 😉

  28. djd_fr on February 5, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Woo hoo! It will be so good to see the work advancing.

    There is something about the phrase “I fled Topeka” that makes it seem like there should a a whole novel around it.

    • Brandy on February 5, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      I lived in Topeka and can sympathize, lol!

    • Ross on February 5, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      My mind is already racing with plot ideas…

  29. Gia on February 5, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Woo hoo hoo!!! I wish more states would follow Kansas’ lead so we can all Make America Beautiful Again! Great job on all levels Ross, bravo!!

  30. Barb Sanford on February 5, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    I am happy, happy, happyhappyhappy for you and the Cross House! I can’t wait to see you make progress on the south facade — and to wrap up work on the windows and the other myriad projects that will make your house finally your home.

  31. Allison on February 5, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so thrilled for you.

    And, now I must find out what the “Fresh Air Baby Camp” is, as well.

    • Allison on February 5, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      How cool! Look here.

      • Barb Sanford on February 6, 2017 at 8:15 am

        Thanks for finding the link. I want to know more about the program, and why the Girls Scouts took it over (and gave it up).

  32. Liz on February 5, 2017 at 5:00 pm


  33. Julie Brandt on February 5, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Oh Ross….I am so very happy for you! Whoot, whoot!

    I live in Calgary Alberta Canada. This city has absolutely no regard for beautiful old neighborhoods or houses. I routinely look for lovely old houses to dream of buying. Slowly and sadly all of the older districts are being taken over and redeveloped into horrible towers of new condo’s. The charming neighborhood I grew up in is gradually being eroded by condo’s and nasty looking contemporary mini mansions with no respect of the charm and beauty that used to reside there. It breaks my heart. That is why I am so completely in love with your house as well as Doug and Amy’s. I await breathlessly for every update. You make my heart sing! I am so envious of all the gorgeous old houses in Kansas, or in the USA for that matter. Thank you for giving me so much joy.

  34. Andi on February 5, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    I am so incredibly excited for this!! Congratulations, Ross! This is a grant well deserved, friend.

  35. Diane on February 5, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Made me cry! So happy…someday I hope to visit this beautiful honest!

  36. Diane on February 5, 2017 at 7:50 pm


  37. Lynn on February 5, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Woohoooo! Today’s post was a much needed ray of sunshine. Congratulations!

  38. Tony Bianchini on February 5, 2017 at 8:29 pm


  39. Sandra G. McNichol on February 5, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    My most sincere and heartiest of congratulations on this 2nd significant grant award, dear Ross!! I am so so pleased and happy at this result for you and Cross House.
    You are a wonderful steward and in this crazy world with insane “stuff” going on multiple times a day to the point that I am ready for a non-stop primal scream that lasts a straight month….ahem….I so welcome this wonderful wonderful news.
    Bravo!! Forge on!
    I read and love every single one of your posts. xox

  40. Miss-Apple37 on February 6, 2017 at 2:34 am

    OMG, congrats!! I’m so looking forward to seeing more posts of you caring for this house, thanks to the grant! And you received the 3rd highest one! congrats again!!

  41. Steve on February 6, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Wonderful news! I am SO glad that Kansas recognizes the value and importance in what you are doing.

  42. Meghan on February 6, 2017 at 7:05 am

    FANTASTIC news. Wholehearted congratulations to you, Ross. This has made me WOOP at my desk! Very well deserved! This will do wonderful things for you and your beauty of a house.

  43. Mike on February 6, 2017 at 8:34 am

    OK, you’ve (almost) got the money in hand, you know what to do, so “RUN, FORREST, RUN!!!!” Seriously, I am extremely happy for you. I wish I could move my house to Kansas…Illinois’ own Governor’s Mansion is literally falling apart due to neglect. Our state, even when we weren’t broke, much prefers to tear down than to restore.

    • Ross on February 6, 2017 at 11:35 am

      Thanks, Mike!

      Illinois, to its great credit, did restore the incredible Dana House by Frank Lloyd Wright.

      • Mike on February 6, 2017 at 3:39 pm

        Funny that you should mention the Dana House, I was able to tour the house last summer while in Springfield, and it was absolutely amazing! Being from a small town, it was my first up-close look at the Prairie Style, and I was surprised to see how modern it looked. Some areas of the house had an Oriental feel to them, while others looked very mid-century.

        If the house seemed somewhat foreign to me in 2016, I can only imagine how it must appeared to folks in 1902! Here is a link, showing the street in the early 1900s, I wonder how the surrounding homeowners felt about their new neighbor?

        I live a few hours south of Springfield, and it is a shame the way that so many of the historic homes and buildings in our area have been needlessly lost. There are a few non-profits in Illinois that offer limited grants to private owners of historic homes, but they are for specific areas, not state wide. About the best that most of us can hope for is some sort of tax credit or easement…and those are not easy to get unless you have $$$ to spend out of pocket. So, I’ll just keep working overtime, and hope to finish before I retire 🙂

  44. Derek on February 6, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Congratulations! What a shot in the arm!

  45. Tia T on February 6, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Ross, congratulations! I have binge-read your Cross House restoration over the past week and I am finally up to speed. It gives me great pleasure to know that with the aid of this grant the content will continue. I cannot wait to see the completed exterior! The town I live in has several historic districts and I wish any of the homeowners had a similar blog.

  46. Jim Guy on February 6, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    And well-deserved, too…

  47. Jordan on February 6, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Congratulations Ross. The south facade is my personal favourite. Can’t wait to follow your progress and see it returned to glory.

    Also Eagerley awaiting the installation of some latticework…. wish I could lend a hand!

  48. Jennifer HT on February 6, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    FANTASTIC NEWS! I was on the rollercoaster of emotions with you. At one point I had wished for a fainting couch, but I stuck it out to see the prize!

  49. Cynthia Dschankilic on February 7, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Congratulations!!! So delighted for you!

  50. Linda on February 7, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Congratulations, well deserved

  51. Meganf42 on February 8, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Tears in my eyes! Astounding! Congratulations!!!!!

  52. Carole Sukosd on February 9, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Congrats Ross !

  53. californianinkansas on February 10, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Congratulations, Mr. Ross!

  54. joanne on March 3, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Tears here, and I don’t even know you. You are an excellent writer! I felt the anxiety and hope, and rejoice with you on winning the grant $. We are working on a (very small in comparison) home, and feel lucky to have it. YOURS is a national treasure! I look forward to seeing her and perhaps you and your wife someday. What you are doing is phenomenal!

  55. Lisa Marie Phillips on March 14, 2017 at 8:10 pm


  56. Sandra Lee on March 23, 2017 at 4:02 am

    Congratulations on your 2nd Heritage grant! I did not realize when I read the most recent posts the 2nd grant was awarded! I really think showing what the 1st grant provided and results helped in your seeking the 2nd grant. Astonishing! Keep up with the wonderful work & I am going to pray for continued health and stamina to continue to progress:-)

  57. Elizabeth on May 15, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Congratulations! This is such wonderful news. I’m thrilled for you and I’m excited to continue reading about your incredible journey.

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