The Cross House

The Cross House…de-vexed.

One can be delicate. By the I mean that one is easily offended, and easily upset about small matters.

One can be strong, but have, ah, some delicate sensibilities.

These are two very different things. And I suffer, occasionally, from the latter.

Or perhaps I have watched too many movies based on novels by Jane Austin!

With the Cross House, when some horrible structural issue is discovered, I basically shrug, because I expect structural issues with old houses. When some bid that I expected to come in at X comes in instead at XXX I shrug again. This happens, and I either bite the bullet and economize elsewhere or come up with a creative roundabout.

But…but…dirty windows? EEK! This upsets my delicate sensibilities!

As do other…things.

The Cross House is a construction zone, and there are two working toilets. Well, you know what toilets look like on a construction site. But at the Cross House I take some small pride in having gleaming toilet bowls. To have otherwise would upset my delicate sensibilities.

So, too, with mess. I work to keep the grounds and interior mostly free of debris and collected flotsam. Several times a month I go around and wipe down the tops of all eight mantels. Weekly I wipe down the top of the huge table in the dining room. For, I can deal with most of the rooms looking like bombs have gone off in them but a dusty table top? Oh dear, just too much for delicate sensibilities!

Because I have spent decades restoring old houses I have learned what freaks me out and what does not. Luckily, the freak-out stuff is normally easily and inexpensively dealt with: keeping things clean and neat. There is a trade-off-off for this because, somehow, discovering a floor massively damaged by termites is easier to deal with if the mantels are clean. But termite damage and dirty mantels? Oh, where are my smelling salts!

I cannot really explain this but suspect that there is a fine line between joy and depression. Paying attention to my delicate sensibilities keeps me tipped over the line to joy.

Tragically though there are some things which vex me (note the Austin?) but for which there are no quick solutions. And this is quite vexing.


A basement window in the NE corner of the Cross House. The glass panes were removed and electrical and freon lines run through the window to the three AC condensers. THIS FREAKS ME OUT.


The three condensers kinda hugged the NE corner, and this also freaked out my delicate sensibilities. For, they distracted from the beauty of the corner. Oh, the horror!

I had the condensers removed and they are now in storage. This spring they will be reinstalled in a fenced yard away from the house. All the pipes/wires shown above will installed in a buried pipe, and through the foundation.

Then the window will be restored. And my joy will be great.


When i purchased the house this basement window had one glass pane with a Y-shaped crack, and the other pane was a piece of cardboard held in place, sorta, with duct tape. This caused my delicate sensibilities much upset, and STAT the window was restored. Several times a month I take a moment to look at it…and smile.


This makes my delicate sensibilities have a friggin’ HEART ATTACK. At top is the fabulous 1894 door for the built-in ice chest. At like 4AM the ice man would stop by, open the little door, and place blocks of ice inside, all the while the family slept peacefully.


But, this lovely, interesting feature has been almost wholly swallowed by an electrical array!

I have already installed a massive new electrical panel in the basement and have been slowly rerouting wires to it. In a few years this onerous task will be completed and the entire array pictured above removed.

Oh what a day that will be!


The gas meter was installed with no thought whatsoever. The horror! I plan to relocate it to the fenced yard where the AC condensers will be and have the gas line buried to the house.


The rear of the house is quite beautiful and the current parking area is going to be a private garden/oasis with a significant waterfall feature. By moving condensers and gas meters and electric panels the rear of the house will, after a long hiatus, be as it was intended by architect Charles Squires.

And, I have no doubt, his delicate sensibilities, high up in the heavens, will also be relieved.



22 Responses to The Cross House…de-vexed.

  1. Is there a coal chute door and are you going to restore it? I want to do something with mine but I can’t figure out what. A kitty door?

    • There is no evidence of the house ever having a coal chute, and no indication of such on the original basement drawings.

      As such I suspect that coal was stored in the carriage house.

      • That’s interesting – surely the original boiler(s?) was/were coal-fired? Do you know anything about the original boiler location? I suppose it could have been the carriage house but it seems a bit unlikely – burying heating pipes without losing half the heat isn’t the easiest thing, let alone with a gravity-fed system. And heating a house that size would likely have required wheelbarrows of coal every few hours.

  2. I have to ask…how soon do you plan to move the gas meter? It will obviously interfere with your new and yet-to-be-installed water table trim…I can’t picture you drilling a hole through the new trim for a meter that will be removed at some point. Would it be possible to reroute the gas line through the cellar doors, since they will be replaced later?

  3. We have a big problem related to this in Pennsylvania – the Utility Commission now requires electric and gas meters on the outside of houses. Clearly a bigger problem where I am than in most of the state. I don’t know if they’ll ever come for me and make me move them, but they could.

  4. This is sooo much more than a post about a house. It is more like…..a page out of the diary to your soul! This is one of the reasons I love your blog so!

    Have a blessed day, Ross.

  5. So many things to learn in this post, about Ross and about his house.

    I’m betting you dust the radiators each week, too. I know they are near and dear to you.

  6. It’s all about attention to detail! By the way, I saw a photo of one of the rooms in the White House yesterday, mid-furniture moving, with a big, bare, STRIPED wooden floor. Did you know that already?

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