I continue to learn new things about the Cross House, and each discovery is a thrill. Yesterday, Kelly of Old House Dreams did a holiday post, and used a great image. The image is also timely for today, Christmas Eve. Courtesy of the Library Of Congress.
By a wonderful coincidence, the image also highlighted an issue I was writing a post about.
See the walls?
See the papered frieze at the top of the walls?
See the picture rail just below the frieze? This was a strip of molding common to houses for many decades, and was used to hang pictures from (with special hooks).
The parlor in the Cross House, primed white. Note the lack of a picture rail. I knew such a rail MUST have existed, as this protected expensively done plaster walls from being punctured with a zillion holes over time.
Some sleuthing (isn’t sleuthing fun!) confirmed that a picture rail did once exist, and even its precise location, which I penciled in. The bottom of the rail is 101-inches above the floor, and the top of the rail is about 22-inches below the ceiling.
And the space above the rail would have certainly had a paper frieze, again like this…
Note also ceiling paper, another standard of the era.
There is NO picture rail remaining in the Cross House. Thus, I went on the hunt for traces of evidence. In the foyer, the rail was almost kissing the ceiling. Oh!
In the dining room the rail was again about 22-inches below the ceiling. Oh!
Dining room, with the lost rail penciled in. The paper is 1970s.
The upper stair hall did not have a picture rail. It did have wall paper, a paper frieze, and ceiling paper. There is however a very curious thing, which also exists in several rooms on the second floor: a faint black thin horizontal line on the bare plaster. Huh?
In the round bedroom there is clear evidence of the lost rail. Oh! I never noticed before!
In the hexagon bedroom is the same faint black line. The lost rail would have covered the line. The line cannot be an imprint of the lost rail, as the rail was much wider.
More mystery line.
I will be replacing all the missing picture rail, as the rooms look just a bit naked without all their original bits.
The headache will be staining the rail to match the extant trim in the various rooms.
Today, crown molding is common, but what I like about picture rail is that it is such a distinctly period look.
And my period house cries out for its lost rail.