Way Up…Gutter Top

In 2020, I erected scaffolding adjacent to the north chimney so it could be repointed at the second level, as part of the 2017 Heritage Trust Grant. Yesterday, I vertically extended the scaffolding WAY up so I could comfortably and safely work at the gutter level. As long as I do not look down, I am fine.


The original mortar had been leached out by a failed built-in gutter (hidden inside the huge curved cornice). From Day 1, the gutter in this area had been badly designed, for it could not possibly contain the massive amount of water rushing down from the massive roof. (I will later show images of the exact issue.) So, since 1894, during a big rain, water has just poured OUT of the gutter. Much of this fell straight down, causing problems at ground level, of course, but water also clung to the curved cornice and then washed down the brick chimney like a vertical river. After 126-years of this, there was not much mortar left. How the north chimney has remained standing is a mystery to me.

With the second-level repointing now complete, it behooves the situation to rectify what caused the problem. Hence, the gutter needs to be modified, and I will be soon be showing thrilling images of this. Thrilling! I mean, who doesn’t just go crazy over images of gutters being made right?




  1. michael bazikos on April 15, 2021 at 1:02 am

    How do you feel about changing a detail of the house that doesn’t work properly as designed; wasn’t built as per the plans, or was never built(but maybe you would like as preferable to what exists at present). I have come across this in my own house, and I have been much less strict about ‘confusing the narrative’. There was no electric lights in the hallway upstairs, added wiring, push-button switches and restored antique fixtures and now I have the necessary lighting. I just wonder if the not changing the narrative rule ever gets a dispensation. Does it?

    • JP on April 15, 2021 at 2:55 pm

      I think one thing to be considered within the “narrative” situation is what May Have Been Done To The House Rule (something which I have thought long and hard about). I will further elaborate on my example here, and I think the carriage house is a good example of this.

      As built, a lot of Victorian-era houses were:
      -NOT wired for electricity.
      -NOT installed with HVAC, and may have only had coal fireplace grates in place (no central heat).
      -did NOT use call bells (instead had speaking tubes).

      And my thought process behind What May Have Been Done™ is that if you can find a product from when you could have reasonably expected this product to be implemented into the house (an ice box from the time period the house could have been reasonably expected to gain refrigeration), or electric sconces from the time the house could have been expected to be electrified, I think in some cases it does not disturb the historical narrative because, in a way, I feel that, Ross, it mimics your rule of appropriate period- and class- level furnishing/decor/hardware. It can have REASONABLY, based upon the history of the house, etc, to have been EXPECTED to have been added.

      Maybe a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but it was a ponderance I thought I should put out into the marketplace of ideas.

      • Ross on April 15, 2021 at 3:14 pm

        Thank, JP!

        Regarding the historical narrative, I’m 100% unconcerned about the necessary gutter repairs as what I do cannot be seen from street level.

        The historical narrative is visual.

        All old houses change over time. So, of course things will be added like electricity, central AC, etc. And even though the Cross House was wired for electricity, it did not have a single electrical outlet. So, the outlets I’m installing are, at a glance, obviously new.

        This is why I didn’t install “Victorian” style AC floor registers. Because the house didn’t have central AC in 1894. So, I choose very sleek modern registers even though a lot of people complained! Again, at a glance, it’s obvious that the floor registers are new, thus the historical narrative is not confused.

        The kitchen though is going to break with the narrative guideline as the soapstone sink I will be ordering will read as original. One reader suggested a small plaque on the adjacent wall letting people know that the sink dates from 2021. I will likely do that! And will smile whenever looking at the plaque!

        • michael bazikos on April 15, 2021 at 4:05 pm

          That is a very good idea, the plaque. The fact that you have an electronic record is also a testament to what is original and what isn’t. For me, I had no original light fixtures on the first floor, and no light fixture was ever in the laundry room(probably it was a pantry). The original light fixture in the first floor hallway was disconnected, the wires cut, and the ceiling plaster repaired at that location. I used a period pan fixture that has colonial revival wreaths on the brass pan. I replaced the junk fixtures downstairs with period pan fixtures with antique shades. I am happy I can see and not have to walk in the dark on the staircase. And my house is happy to look like it most likely did originally.

        • JP on April 15, 2021 at 4:28 pm

          This I can understand, and not installing the floor registers in this context makes sense because the house would have never had floor registers- if it never had a heating system incorporating them from the beginning. I think this was also more of an argument to do with something like a refrigerator- arguably most houses recieved them from the 20s- 40s, depending on the grandeur. Therefore, a 30s fridge may not disrupt the historical narrative as much as it can be expected that the house, not originally possessing a fridge at the time but being upgraded as the years went on etc.- or why I don’t disagree with historical narratives regarding push-buttons because when the house was first wired, even though it would have originally never had those fixtures- it can be reasonably expected it would have aquired them. I guess this gets in the way of what was physically done to the house, but I also appreciate your reasoning to do with why some of your additons are modern, rather than period- or not period, but of similar period.

          Additionally, I was not even referring to the gutters but more to Mike’s comment. If something was not designed in a proper technique originally, it’s a no-brainer to upgrade it- otherwise problems continue! I can’t wait for the Cross house to recieve it’s new gutter plan, courtesy of you, I was more replying to my thought process to do with michael’s comment.

  2. tiffaney jewel on April 15, 2021 at 1:46 am

    As someone whose gutters need help, I think it will indeed be THRILLING!

    • Allison on April 18, 2021 at 8:04 pm

      SAME! I’ve had the gutters “fixed” but they still never tilt the right way and the water never drains as it should.

  3. Leigh on April 15, 2021 at 7:54 am

    Ah, our minds are in the gutter. I think the Cross House remained standing because it knew that you will take care of it.
    You have not only fixed the higher areas of the Cross House, Ross; you have also proven to yourself that you are the master of your self. No fear of heights can stop you. Bravo!

  4. Pamela on April 15, 2021 at 7:58 am

    I can’t wait! Your feats of engineering are so exciting to me.

  5. Linda A. on April 15, 2021 at 8:51 am

    Oh I like seeing all the structural repairs you do!! Love problem solving (and fixing!)…and admiring that you know how to fix stuff! Big stuff!

  6. Barb Sanford on April 15, 2021 at 9:29 am

    I’m looking forward to seeing you think through the options and apply the best fix to the problem. I learn from you every time you tackle one of these thorny projects.

  7. David F. on April 15, 2021 at 10:52 am

    I’ll be interested to see your solution. A cricket on the backside of the chimney usually works well, but with it being so close to the tower……

  8. Mike on April 15, 2021 at 10:55 am

    On the contrary; this is the sort of thing that gets us old-house lovers excited!! Over the past few years we have got stoked by everything from light switches to glazing compound, so don’t worry, your cheering section is present and ready! LOL

  9. Laurie L Weber on April 15, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    I luv some of the previous comments! I too have gutters in need of tlc and always look forward to whatever you do. I, however, could NEVER get up on the scaffolding! Kudos to you, Brave Ross. 🙂

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