WARNING: A Temporary Danger!

All old house restorers know this: Because of a lack of time and/or money, one does a “temporary” repair.

However, over the decades, I have learned that temporary usually becomes permanent.

For example, let’s say you have an original window. The sashes are in very poor condition, as are the frame and sill, but all are restorable. The problem? It is soon going to be January, again, and from experience you know that freezing air WILL blow through the window. And you just cannot go through such another winter. So…you do a quick fix. A temporary fix. The old sashes are taken out, a vinyl window from Home Depot is sorta fitted in (with a lot of spray foam) and while the end result ain’t pretty, at last, at last, no freezing wind now blows into your bedroom.

But, and this is the killer, twenty years later the quick fix is still in place.

We have all done this. We all know the restoration anguish of intention being displaced by…time.

Next month I will be sixty (eek!) and have learned (the hard way, of course) a vital warning:




In 2014 I did a temporary solution on the main facade of the 1894 Cross House. An original feature, kinda cool but so poorly designed for exterior usage that it had already been replaced due to rot, and the replacement itself had now also rotted away, needed replacing yet again.

This cycle of endless replacement seemed stupid. So I — gasp! — removed this feature and replaced it with a non-original…something…until I could figure out how to recreate the original design but with materials/detailing which would not rot away.

Since, though, this temporary solution was finished in 2014 a little voice in my head, quiet at first but ever louder, kept nagging at me: Don’t let temporary become permanent.

The months slipped by. Then the years. And the nagging grew VERY loud. And VERY insistent.

OK! Damnit, OK!

Geez! Damn! OK! OK!!!!!!!!


 the center window? This was part of the original design, but it had already been replaced in its entirety at least once, and was now already rotted again. Why? Because it was, and always would be, a very bad idea because it did not shed water. It is a nice INTERIOR detail; it is a very bad EXTERIOR detail.

As you guessed, I am talking about the paneled design under the the center window on the second floor of the West Facade. This paneling was part of the original design but it had already been replaced in its entirety at least once and in 2014 was rotted again. Why? Because it was, and always would be, a very bad idea because it did not shed water. It was a nice INTERIOR detail; it was a very bad EXTERIOR detail.



So I, wow, WOW, ruthlessly removed the rotted paneling and replaced it TEMPORARILY (I swear!) with shingles. This solution would protect the house from rot until a permanent solution could be devised. The months though slipped into many months and then years as I pondered and debated and fussed and fretted and devised and discarded and costed out and panicked until, glory hallelujah, at long last…AT LONG LAST…



..an 1894 design was resurrected. But, and this is important, with materials/detailing which will NOT rot (see previous post on subject). Hallelujah!!!!!!!!


STATUS REPORT: I am pleased to announce that the damn nagging voice has been silenced. Well, at least until I create another “temporary” solution.

EMOTIONAL REPORT: I am so happy!!!!!!!!




  1. Barb Sanford on January 20, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Whoo hoo! Well done, you. Can’t wait to see this fix in person.

  2. Krystal on January 21, 2017 at 2:10 am

    Looks great!

  3. Mary on January 21, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Hey Ross, Watching throughout all your posts, I am just wondering why this window in the middle was’t just made into a full window like the ones on the side. I know the the original idea in 1894 was for design. But why was it never made into a full window. I think the three windows would have looked nice too. Of all the ownerships, I am just surprised the window didn’t get turned into a full window for exterior ascethic reasons and for preventing rot and damage. Is there something on the interior that prevented someone from putting in a full window? Your house amazes me at how sooo many ownerships and so many things this house was turned into, that this little window didn’t get a full window replacement. Just saying.

    • Ross on January 21, 2017 at 10:19 am

      The middle window originally lighted a dressing room. So, I understand why it was a half-window.

      The dressing room and adjacent closet were turned into a bathroom in 1929 so I understand why it is still a half-window!

      • Mary on January 21, 2017 at 10:27 am

        Thanks Ross. Now I can relax. That makes total sense. So of course in 1894 the exterior had to make it look like it was done on purpose. Even architects today would have done this. With today’s technology I knew you would find someway to make it work. You are the Knight in Shining Armour taking great care of your damsel in distress. I can just imagine being a young girl walking through your house with a tour group and the tour guide explains all the work you and Bob put into the this house and why it is a National Treasure. I just love it Ross. It looks great.

  4. djd_fr on January 22, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Approximately 3 years? That is not very long in the life of a restoration.

  5. Sandra Lee on April 20, 2017 at 3:10 am

    I loved reading about all the Emporia updates.

    I am intrigued about how you ended up in Emporia, KS?

    I thought you were in NYC just prior to Emporia?

    Anyway I just wondered….

    • Ross on April 20, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      I have a brief history here.

  6. Beth McKinsey on May 16, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Looking forward to your posts! Love your home!

    • Ross on May 16, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      Thank you, Beth!

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