The Cross House

Tipping my Hat to 1894 Carpenters

The previous owner of the Cross House, Bob Rodak, gutted the four-story servant’s stair. He remove all the door and window trim, labeled each piece (thank you, Bob), and set all that in the Aladdin’s Cave.

Last year, when I was able to at last empty the cave, I sat all these many bundles back inside the stair tower, next to their respective window or door.

Yesterday, still in the grip of Fussy, I felt compelled to reinstall some of this trim.


There were curious bundles, too: Long lengths of trim that did not seem to go anywhere. But they were clearly labeled STAIR HALL. After a bit, I finally realized that they sat atop the baseboard (see the light gray trim)! Why was such elaborate trim used in the servants stair? Why not just a simple 1/4 round? 


The base plinth blocks on the door trim are deliciously coped around the elaborate base trim. The tightness will be even better with all the trim is installed for real (it is just tacked on for now).


And the base trim is also deliciously coped to the flat vertical trim. I am just in awe of the carpenters who took such care 124-years ago. 


Most impressively, the BACK of the lower horizontal window trim is carved out so that the base trim can continue uninterrupted behind it! And the very bottom of the thinned-out window trim perfectly kisses an edge of the base trim. Wow! It would have been SO much easier to have first installed the window trim, and then cut the base trim to fit. Again, I tip my hat to the 1894 carpenters.


The round window trim back in place!


It is really curious that the window trim is, also, of a high level. 


The second-floor door trim back in place! Note the elaborate base trim. The only plaster remaining in the tower is on the brick of the chimney. This reveals the ghost of another trim piece; its current whereabouts unknown.


The kitchen door trim is back in place! 


Had all this trim been thrown away it would have been a nightmare trying to recreate it. Impossible, actually, as I would have no idea of What Was There. And my coping skills are way less brilliant than those of the 1894 carpenters.



10 Responses to Tipping my Hat to 1894 Carpenters

  1. U are.nothing short of remarkable re; 1894 innovation … alas your coping skills would have fallen short… with good reason … you appreciate the artisanal expertise …
    You are simply wonderful Ross!

  2. And let’s remember all this trim etc. was cut without power tools! And so elaborate on top of it. Just beautiful.

  3. The ghost of trim also seems to reveal itself on BOTH sides of the door frame at the bottom of the stairs. Makes me wonder how much this lost detail will haunt dear Ross?

  4. Your paint pot collection gave me a chuckle, Ross. Waiting patiently to see all your color choices revealed inside your masterpiece home. I just returned from a home tour of one of our local historic districts. I am always inspired, yet your home just thrills me. I think I love that you do SO MUCH of the work yourself. You are so personally invested in making your home to your exacting standards. Seeing what construction companies do leaves me kind of flat (the horor of canned lights and painted woodwork). Those homes are missing the love and passion your place is overflowing with. Thank you for sharing your fussiness, devotion, and ardor for the work with us. We’re better for it.

  5. I’d almost forgotten that the back stair is perhaps the one area of the house we really haven’t seen much of. Who knew it would turn out to be as equally impressive and fascinating as the rest of the house?

  6. Having done a lot of hand-coping on simpler profiles myself, I have high respect for the trim carpenters who did it so carefully on the complex millwork in your house!

    Is it possible the ghost trim on the wall was a simple flat profile with coat or hat hooks mounted to it? I’ve seen other houses with hooks on the walls of the basement and servant’s stairs for hanging articles like that (coats, hats, jackets, umbrellas, etc).

  7. That’s what makes a house like yours so special – all the human details contributed by craftsmen of unequalled quality. I wish I knew who created the stained glass windows. I just love the designs!!

  8. I’m pretty amazed they’d put that level of effort into a part of the house that only the servants would see. Wonderful that all of those pieces were saved.

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