Wanna Tour The House In 1894?
In January, 1894, shortly before Susan and Harrison Cross moved into their new home, along with their granddaughter, Mary, a reporter from the Emporia Gazette wrote a detailed article.
A curious aspect of the article is that nothing about the decoration was mentioned. Nothing. There is no mention of colors, wallpapers, drapery, furniture, lighting, or artwork.
While the house was fully wallpapered, did this happen after the Cross family moved in?
Moreover, when construction began on the house the national economy had been doing well. However, when the house was completed in early 1894, the economic landscape had vastly changed, into what is now called The Panic of 1893. This makes me wonder: was the house ever furnished?
The article is accurate save three issues:
- Several rooms mention “cherry” or “birch” trim but these are faux bois finishes.
- The “improved elevator to the second floor” was actually a dumbwaiter from the basement to the first-floor kitchen.
- The second-floor hall is described as “beautifully relieved with Gothic arches and heavy oak carved columns” but it seems doubtful that such features existed. The description however does match the first-floor niche. (UPDATE: This has been clarified. See comments below.)
The third floor description is interesting with “servant’s bedrooms” and “bathroom” and “two large storerooms”.
There was a bathroom. Adjacent, was a room finished in plaster (the rest of the third floor was/is wood). There is no evidence of any additional bedrooms, most of the third floor being one gigantic room. While the original floor plan hints (dotted lines rather than solid) at some division of the gigantic room, no evidence exists that this wall was ever built. Note: The lack of evidence does not preclude such features as having once existed.
Having this 1894 description has repeatedly proved invaluable in answering numerous questions and revealing several lost aspects of the house.
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