The Cross House

Traveling Back In Time

Everything is ready. The scientists are standing by. And YOU are invited! Please, won’t you, join me as we travel back to 1929, then back more, then back some more, and finally to 1894. So, IF YOU DARE, let’s step into the time machine!


Can you feel yourself being dissolved on a molecular level?

A rush, right?

It’s OK though. We will reconstitute once back in 1929.

It’s now 2015, now 2014, now 2013…now 1990……now 1950………and now 1929. 1929! Crazy, right! I know!

Now, give yourself a moment. That weird queasy feeling will dissipate.

Feeling OK now?

Oh good! Now, see this…


…wall? We are standing in the Long Bedroom of the Cross House. In 1929, the upstairs was converted into apartments, and tall cabinets were installed in each studio unit to house a murphy bed. When the cabinet in this bedroom was installed, a board (about 5-inches wide) was nailed across the wall to hold it. Later, all the wallpaper was removed in the room…


…save the paper under the 5-inch wide board. So, what we are looking at is the top-most paper which was covered over in 1929, and stayed covered until I removed the board. Upon which I gasped! For, there were LAYERS of wallpaper, all pre-1929!


The top-most paper (#1) was rather dull, and had these small ovals. Now, we are going back in time again…


…to discover paper #2. Stripes! NOTE: All the papers are wet, so they are darker than they would normally look. Now, we are going back in time again…


…to discover paper #3! This is a lovely leaf pattern! It has…


…gold, too! Now, we are going back in time again…


…to discover paper #4! Another leaf pattern! Now, we are going back in time again…


…to discover…huh? What is this? Paper 5? Or a liner paper? It is quite thick. It has a bit of texture, but I think, think, that is because it is wet. Well, we are going back in time again…


…to discover paper #6! Another stripe! Now, we are going back in time again…


…to discover…EEK!…EEK!…EEK…THE MOTHERLOAD! Paper #7, the ORIGINAL 1894 wallpaper!!!!!!!! I am FREAKING OUT!


The paper (again, darkened by water) is striped with a floral pattern, There are branches with leaves and flowers, and…


…what seems the lower part of a floral bouquet.


This is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO exciting to me.

It is now evident that the Long Bedroom was papered between five and six times during a 35-year period, or basically every five years. This surprises me. A lot.

This is the type of invaluable information encoded within historic walls which is lost forever when people gut a house to the studs. Oh, the horror. The horror!


Courtesy Historic New England
Previously, I discovered the original wallpaper to the parlor and two-story stairhall. When I discovered the latter, Bo reached into his magic hat and pulled out who made it, and a large, pristine sample. (Courtesy Historic New England.)


This, of course, begs the question: I wonder if Bo’s magic hat is still working?




16 Responses to Traveling Back In Time

  1. First, let me say thank you for creating this blog for the sole purpose of occupying my attention for the last two and a half days while I read every word, which kept me from crying about online dating. In particular, Randy who ghosted me. Jeff who stayed up Skyping me all night then sent me a picture of his peepee while he was on a date with someone else. And Bob who said he loved me and then made out with someone else two hours later.

    I am not rich and I am very frugal and I only have two pairs of pants which I have been alternatingly wearing for the past 15 years, but I will make a donation to your project because I am SO proud of you, stranger. You must have a giant heart to be so dedicated not only to every detail of your house but also to entertaining us with your discoveries and triumphs.

    And the link to the craigslist sink in Seattle isn’t active anymore, but I live in Seattle and would be happy to ship you anything you want from here. It only costs about $50 to send big things by Greyhound bus and then you pick it up at your nearest Greyhound station. Marble cracking would be a worry, but I’ve bought many fragile things that way, and so far no problem. But also blanket-wrap delivery would only be about $100 I would think with Plycon Van Lines.

    And also, I think I’ve read every word of your posts, and so far, no mention of the word BALLROOM. Isn’t that what your third floor is? I’ve seen other houses of this era with a ballroom on the top floor. It’s not on your blueprints, but I think you should be saying more often, “I have a ballroom.”

    We are all so grateful for sharing your spirit with us. It really helps us with our own shit.

    P.S. I’m super hot. For a lumberjack. Men should be nice to me.

    • It’s true.

      All my efforts to date have been to protect you from the dangers of online dating.

      Let your story be a warning to others!

      I never mention the ballroom of the Cross House because it does not exist. I do have a stunningly expansive third floor but it was never a ballroom. It was created for servants and storage.

      Thanks for your comment; it made me smile. And scared me just a bit! I’ve never received one like it!

      (Oh, and yes, all men should be nice to super-hot lumberjacks named Diana.)

  2. Well, it is certainly obvious that this room will require a selection of wallpaper that is either floral, striped, or both!
    I particularly like the original, and would love to see a sample of it.

    And while we are here in 1894, I think I’ll take a trip over to Vermont and meet my great grandparents! And my great great grandparents. I’d love to see the farm.

    • I agree! If we were in 1894, I would certainly be over at 624 Cottonwood and would be able to see my great great grandparents’ house, the original to 6th and Union. It makes me sad that it’s no longer there to see. If our family history weren’t so “unacceptable” (divorce was such a taboo back in the good old days) I might have been able to see that house back when it was still there. I can imagine my grandmother going 3 blocks out of her way NOT to go by that house. Oh, history. . .
      Ross, have you ever seen a picture of the house that was moved to make way for your beautiful baby? My mom mentioned that there was a picture of my grandmother in front if it, but we have not located it as of yet.

  3. Who just wallpapers over wallpaper! Everyone apparently, since I’ve seen this in so many old houses. You’d think the weight would get to be too much after awhile and it would all fall down. Didn’t people think of this? Well I’d never do it, and I know you never would, but isn’t it cool to have?

    I have a wonderful picture of 4 or 5 layers of peeling wallpaper (plus many layers of mold) in an amazing house in Baltimore. I’ll have to scare it up for you.

  4. That’s surprising how many times the wallpaper was changed. I guess we tend to think that these grand houses stood as they were built for a long time, but in reality, since they were generally built by wealthy members of high social social standing, it makes sense that they would be redecorating frequently to keep up with the current styles.

    The information you’re discovering helps tell a more vivid story of the home’s history. I’m sure future owners will appreciate these details. I know us readers of your blog sure do!

  5. I just had a thought about the wallpaper – it was papered so many times in that 35 year period, but what have you discovered in other areas after that? Was there as much wallpaper put up after it became apartments, fraternity, hotel . . .?

    Would support the idea of the high society and keeping up with the new styles.

    By the way, why are you not doing an HGTV or DIY show? All of your stories are way more interesting than any of those on now.

  6. The original wallpaper is the most beautiful out of all of them. Thank God/the Universe/the Flying Spaghetti Monster that The Cross House found her way into your hands.

  7. these people must have been papering fanatics – 7 layers in 35 years.
    BTW – where did the Cross family go after they left here?

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