The Cross House

Wanna Meet 1929?

In 1929, Scott Mouse, Sr., purchased the Cross House.

He converted the second floor to apartments, and his family occupied a suite on the first floor.

In 1950, his son, Scott, Jr., converted the house into the Mouse Palace Motel, and most of the apartment features were removed.

By some amazing luck, the floor plan of the 1929 conversion is extant.

Wanna see it?

 

The original 1894 layout of the second floor. This is AS DRAWN. There were subtle changes with the AS BUILT. All these images hugely enlarge if you click on them.

 

And this is the 1929 conversion plan.

 

The 1929 plan was to create five studio apartments. However, as with the 1894 plan, there was a difference between AS DRAWN and AS BUILT.

The most dramatic change was the shrinking of the extravagantly-sized main staircase so two kitchens could be inserted. The railings which were removed, and the newel posts, were stored in the house. In 2014, I returned the staircase to its original size, and I am reinstating the long-removed railings and newel posts.

 

ROUND BEDROOM (upper left):

My favorite room in the house.

The 1929 conversion transformed the dressing room and closet into a full bath. This bath is extant. I plan to retain it.

An armoire was installed in the room which held a Murphy bed. The armoire is extant although dismantled. The Murphy bed was removed in, I believe, 1950 when the house was converted into the Mouse Palace Motel. I plan to reinstate the armoire and use it as a closet.

A kitchen was created by shrinking the stairhall. Again, I reversed this change in 2014.

 

HEXAGON BEDROOM (lower left):

Until last week, I did not think that most of the 1929 plans for this room had actually been built. But newly discovered physical evidence reveals otherwise.

The closet was converted into a full bath. This bath is extant. I plan to retain it.

The inserted kitchen, dinette table, and Murphy bed were removed in, I believe, 1950. There is no trace of these features today.

 

SEWING ROOM (middle, bottom):

The 1929 plans show this en-suite with the Hexagon Bedroom. The physical and anecdotal evidence indicates that the rooms were separate apartments. The Murphy bed armoire shown was actually installed a bit to the right. The bed was removed, I believe, in 1950, but the armoire is extant although dismantled.

The door to the room was never in the center of the wall, but is rather over to the left.

The bathroom was converted into a kitchen. The room is currently gutted to the studs although the 1894 flooring is largely intact; I will restore this feature and return the room to a bathroom.

Adjacent to the 1894 bathroom was a separate toilet room. The 1929 plans show this converted into a full bath. There is no evidence that this bathroom was built as shown.

 

LONG BEDROOM (upper right):

The closet was expanded and transformed into a full bath. I removed the bath fixtures in 2014 and am returning the space to a closet. I will retain the “expanded” size, and will be plumbing the room so it could later be, again, an en-suite bathroom.

A kitchen was created by shrinking the stairhall. I reversed this change in 2014.

 

HOUSEKEEPER’S ROOM (lower right):

There is no evidence that this conversion was built.

The 1894 blanket closet was removed, as was an adjacent closet.

The room was later converted into a communal kitchen.

I will use the room as the master bathroom.

 

When bathrooms were inserted in 1929 they were lined with wallboard imitating tile. Upon purchasing the house, I assumed this wallboard was circa-1950. However…

 

…a 1928 advertisement I discovered proves that the wallboard, almost certainly, dates from the 1929 conversion. So, bathrooms on the cheap! I plan to retain some of the wallboard as an historical feature. Otherwise, I will be upgrading the two extant 1929 bathrooms.

 

 

 

5 Responses to Wanna Meet 1929?

  1. When do you think the housekeeper’s room was converted to a communal kitchen? Motel era, frat house era or sometime later, and is it extant? Are the plumbing chases for the additional baths pretty well-hidden on the main floor? Did they commit all kinds of structural atrocities notching and boring framing to put them in?

    I have the same wallboard tile, from around the same era, on a bathroom addition to a 1905 400-square-foot cottage the boyfriend and I are fixing up. I image we’ll find a date stamp on the shorty clawfoot tub when we haul it to the refinisher, telling us the year they went with indoor plumbing.

  2. This is so interesting! You’re lucky to have so many blueprints to help you to understand the changes to the house over time. You mention that you’re going to update the 1929 bathrooms. Does that mean that you’re not going to keep the 1929 fixtures? It’s also interesting to see the advertisement for the board tile. It gives you an idea of what a 1920’s bathroom looked like.

  3. I love that you’re keeping the small en-suite bathrooms (Who WOULD’NT want their own bathroom?!). Even though they’re 100% NOT original to 1894, and they take up valuable closet space, your solution, armoires, solve that problem. Keeping the bathrooms ensures that the house has a future, and that it will remain viable to families of today AND tomorrow. To only have one bathroom serving the entire floor would be a deal breaker for most large families. At least this way, you can make sure that the bathrooms that would inevitably be carved out anyway are done so in a manner that is sympathetic to the house and that they are as inconspicuous as possible. Plus, without built in closets, you have an excuse to go buy more furniture! Who doesn’t like an excuse to have to go furniture shopping?!

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