The Cross House
When new, the house did not appear to have hardly any downspouts. Almost all the gutters fed into each other.
So, the turret gutter drains into the north gutter, which wraps around the house to become the east gutter, which wraps around the house to become the south gutter. Only then was there a downspout, which was hidden, I think, inside a wall. Today, this downspout is highly visible, and quite unattractively so, on the south side of the house.
The main porch downspouts, from what I can tell, were originally hidden inside some porch columns. Really. There are no porch downspouts visible in the archival images, and bits of surviving evidence indicate that hollow columns acted as downspouts. Hollow wood columns. Well, you can appreciate how this was so not a good idea. Over time, external downspouts were added to the main porch, which today has four. Sigh.
All the gutters eventually fed into a giant cistern, which is extant, although no longer connected.
I had assumed that with all the gutters being re-lined, my gutter issues would magically vanish.
Alas, this fairy tale assumption has proved incorrect.
In the driving rain the other day, I stood before the porte-cochère with a large piece of cardboard covering my head, and stared open-mouthed at very weird things going on with the gutters.
At the porte-cochère, there was very little water coming out of the pipe for a downspout. There WAS water pouring over the edge, about 3/4 over from the right. And water was dripping over the far right edge. Oh, this was so not good.
The next day, bright and sunny, I hauled out the big ladder and climbed up to look inside the gutter.
Well, about 3/4 over from the right it dips. The dip is not obvious externally, but it do dip nonetheless. At the moment I have no idea of how to de-dip it.
Over to the far right, the gutter is shallow to the point of not being a gutter. It is just, well, a shelf. And water drips onto the shelf, then trickles down the curved cornice, and onto the 4×4 wood column below. The column is a temporary replacement for the original turned column (with decorative capital), which is now mostly rotted and stored away.
And now I understand why it rotted.
Oh, and the other side of the porte-cochère has basically the same issues. Thus, headache x 2.
There is more nonsense, too:
See the crazy ass downspout in the above image?
When I purchased the house all the downspouts had been long removed. This was very very very bad.
MOST of the water from the massive roof falls into the winding, contiguous north/east/south main gutter, where it all drained out a pipe (top, upper image). But without a downspout, it just slammed to the roof of the servant’s hall, destroyed all the wall shingles above the roof, and caused incredibly destructive havoc with the window and all other wood parts.
In 2014, we gathered together disparate sections of tubing to get a damn downspout back on this vital location. It, too, looks terrible, and kinda silly, but it gets the job done.
I am doubtful that there was a visible downspout in this location in 1894, but have not found any evidence (so far) of an internal downspout.
Obviously I need to install a more attractive downspout.
The Cross House is HUGELY more protected from rain now than when I purchased it.
I now need to quickly:
- Un-dip the east and west gutters on the porte-cochère. If possible.
- If not, I need to have the downspouts relocated to these low spots.
- The “shelf” issues on the porte-cochère also need to be fixed.
- The crooked gutter above the servant’s hall also needs to be fixed. Adding a downspout on the low end would be the easy solution, but there would then be another downspout on a house where essentially none were originally intended. So, I will likely pursue a less easy solution.
The above problems have been problems for a very long time. And the house has been seriously damaged as a result.
I am less than pleased realizing that more work has now been added to a VERY long To Do list, but at the same time I am a bit pleased to discover the WHY for rotted house bits, and am also kinda excited about figuring out good solutions.
So, time to put…