Trying To Reveal The Past
While the Cross House has remained…relatively speaking…largely intact during its 127-year-life, the adjacent carriage house has been through a lot.
I knew none of this when I purchased the property in 2014. Indeed, I did not even know that the carriage house WAS the carriage house to the Cross House.
The ensuing years (combined with intense curiosity) has revealed much:
- The structure just south of the Cross House was, indeed, the original carriage house.
- The structure was, circa-1921, sold off.
- The structure was then converted into a house. It was moved west and atop a new foundation. Its north ‘barn’ was sliced off, pivoted to the east atop a new foundation, to become the new kitchen wing. The roof was pierced by many dormers to create a habital second floor.
- The structure was later converted into three apartments.
So, in 1894, it seems that the structure had a huge roof interrupted only by a turret. But, why a turret? Was this simply a decorative element to complement the Cross House? Or was the turret, with its three windows, a room for the groom?
I have pondered these question for years now.
In walking through the second floor of the carriage house, I now understand that what I see a dates from the circa-1921 conversion. In 1894, the second level of the carriage house was likely a hay loft.
But…what about the turret? Was it, too, just part of a hay loft? Or, was it a room?
These images offer potentially vital information.
In the Cross House, the servant’s areas are all shellac on wood. Plain and simple. During the 1921 conversion, it seems doubtful that such a finish was still common, with paint being the preferred choice for the era.
And what about the square-cut nail? While such nails were used in 1894, I think round nails were common by 1921 (round nails were used for the base molding). So, is this evidence that the east wall is original, confirming my suspicions that it was a separate room (possibly for a groom)?
These two clues are tantalizing, and potentially support that the turret was an actual room in 1894. It is now plaster on lath, but this work would be part of the 1921 conversion. If the turret was a room, it would have likely been bead-board, as is the third floor of the Cross House.
More clues might be revealed in time. If the other second-floor trim (all heavily painted) is shown to have an original shellac finish, this would indicate that the turret shellac trim finish dates from 1921. However, if none of the other trim is found to have an original shellac finish, then this would surely confirm that the turret finish dates from 1894.
It is all quite exciting. The past, slowing revealing itself.
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