The Worst Wall

You are looking at the worst wall in the Cross House.


This wall. This damn wall.


The wall had problems from Day 1.

It had no support under. It just rested on ceiling joists which, quite understandably, sagged over time.

In 1929, things were made exponentially worse when the expansive stair opening was shrunk in half so two kitchens could be created.  But these new kitchens, and the new walls surrounding them, also had no support under.

And the worst wall suffered further abuse by having a door cut into it so the round bedroom could access one of the kitchens. This new opening was done very badly, having no header installed to support the weight overhead.


The 1929 conversion.


In 1950, the kitchens were replaced by a motel room with adjacent pink bath. The 1929 kitchen door into the round bedroom was blocked up. Badly, with some vertical 2x4s just kinda left hanging.

In 2014, I removed all the added walls and returned the area to what it had been in 1894.

It was evident though that the worst wall was a mess. Every time one shut the door to the round bedroom the worst wall shaked, and plaster would fall to the floor. Justin and I would stare in wonder and horror.

It was also evident that simply repairing all the plaster to the worst wall would be an exercise in futility. For, without addressing the underlying issues, any plaster repair would fail. Huge cracks would re-appear, and the shaking quaking rattling wall would continue to cause Justin and I to stare at it in wonder and horror.

So, last year a huge new beam was installed UNDER the worst wall. This beam was supported by supports resting on the foundation. Thus, what should have been in place in 1894 was at last in place 122-years later.

Then, I removed the door frame to the round bedroom, which had dramatically sagged, and made it level. Oh boy, was Ross happy that day!

And today?


I knocked off even more crumbling plaster. (You can see the remains of the pink 1950 bathroom to the right.)


When the 1929 kitchen door was created, a diagonal brace was cut through. The house abounds with such bracing, which hugely helps in keeping an old house straight.

Today, I replaced the missing section of lost brace (see above image). Then I added more vertical 2x4s (not pictured) to assure that the worst wall no longer shakes quakes and rattles.

And this righting of an 1894 wrong, and 1929 wrongs, felt really good. Really good.

Soon, I will sheetrock over the studs and for the first time ever the worst wall will be a fabulous wall.

I am living for this.




  1. Carole Sukosd on December 19, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    The pink and black tile look familiar. Is it some type of plastic? Can’t wait to see the new painted wall. Ross has been very busy. You’re on Santa’s Very Nice list.

    • Ross on December 19, 2017 at 8:00 pm

      Yes, the tile is plastic. Oh, the horror!

  2. Stewart McLean on December 19, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    Isn’t great that you have the biggest issues having to do with the worst wall completed. What satisfaction you must have! Veni, Vidi, Vici. You have won the worst battle and come out VICTORIOUS! HALE SEIZURE!, you make a really good salad. M’tung’s stuk’n m’chic.

    Just kidding, except about the triumph of solving the worst wall problem. I am really pleased for you. I just happen to be iconoclastic by nature, and you have certainly become my icon of house restoration as well as that of many others as well.

    There may be a compliment or two in there if you look really hard. Whisper, whisper: “Do you think he’s drinking again” whisper, whisper……..

    Please laugh.

  3. Michael Bazikos on December 19, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Ross, It takes a special gift to see things as they will be, not as they are at the present moment. In the spirit of the season, I wish you: ‘Joyeux Noel’; ‘Froehliche Weinachten’; e’ una Felice Natale e’un Buon Anno!

  4. tiffaney jewel on December 19, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    Ross you are just amazing. What a mess! You’re fixing 100+ years of shenanigans. It must be overwhelming at times. But you’re doing such a great job. I hope I can see it in person one day.

  5. Annette on December 19, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    Wow, the Cross House needed you to buy it and repair and restore it. Little by little bit by bit the gracious old lady is coming back together. The worst wall has been supported and will now be stronger than when it was new. Nice.

    2018 is going to be a huge year for Cross House. Looking forward to seeing the progress.

  6. Sandra Lee on December 19, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Joyous Christmas! Festive Solstice! Happy Festivus! Wonderful New Year! Every step along your restoration highway has resulted in tremendous success! You are amazing & I applaud every big & little change!! Remarkable! Absolutely tremendous! This post was an illustration of the amazing feats & improvements—nothing short of astonishing!

    • Ross on December 20, 2017 at 8:25 am

      Thank ye, Sandra!

  7. Meike B. on December 20, 2017 at 4:25 am

    I’m still stuck in the past. Reading this I cannot understand how were such a brilliant architect and such good builders able to forget a wall’s foundation? And even worse: building a door without a header! This is like making the things mere as a decoration and not to use them. Why?

    On one hand they create fantastic buildings an on the other hand they fail on the elementary things.
    Good that you correct this!

    Besides: where did you put that beam? Directly under the wall or did you get there from underneath through the ceiling?

    I love that you do not only (fabulous) decoration but also repair major issues!

    • Ross on December 20, 2017 at 8:23 am

      Hi, Meike!

      The headerless doc was part of the 1929 renovation.

      The beam I installed is directly below the worst wall.

  8. Cory on December 20, 2017 at 6:32 am

    Are you saving the pink and black tile for your basement bathroom?

    • Ross on December 20, 2017 at 8:25 am

      I don’t have enough of the 1950 plastic tiles. I plan to use ceramic tile.

  9. Pamela on December 20, 2017 at 6:39 am

    Ross: What is that shape in the middle of the wall at the bottom that looks like a fireplace surround?

    • Ross on December 20, 2017 at 8:26 am

      That is new framing to allow for an AC duct in the lower wall.

  10. Gabi on December 20, 2017 at 7:31 am

    I can’t believe that in such a short period of time, 1894 – 1929 they took a lovely home and butchered it that way.

    • Ross on December 20, 2017 at 8:31 am

      The 1929 changes likely save the house.

      By 1929, the once fashionable neighborhood was no longer fashionable. And the adjacent street had bene transformed into a highway. Converting the house into apartments mad the house viable again. Ditto with the motel conversion in 1950.

      An “adaptable” house is likely a survivor! I often wonder how the house will change during the next century!

  11. San on December 23, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    I’m so glad the windows were done in the initial stages of remodeling. In every single photo they shine like bright jewels in a tarnished crown. Kudos to you for focusing on every tiny detail. And a very Happy Christmas to you and yours.

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