WF Norman Road Trip!


I have done several posts about the Cross House turret finial. For 122-years it has been through countless storms and hail storms and snow and heat and lighting strikes and encounters with UFOs. All considering, it looks pretty good. I could have painted it, and had it reinstalled. But I couldn’t. The poor dear needed some attention. The poor dear deserved some attention.



Luckily, the WF Norman company is not too far away, and they agreed to take a look at the finial. So, road trip!


I arrived in Nevada, a lovely

I arrived in Nevada, a lovely small community with a town square. I expected WF Norman to be at the edge of town, but they are right off the town square. I have known of the company since the the early 1980s, when I sent away for a catalog, after seeing their ad in Old House Journal. The company is most well-known for making tin ceilings. A YouTube video of their history (fascinating) can be seen here. I was to meet with Mark Quito. His father, Robert, purchased the company in 1978, from the grandson of William Franklin Norman.



The only hint from the exterior that something WAY COOL happens here is the discreet entrance awning.



The whole complex is huge. It is the gray-roofed structures, and the darker gray-roofed structure to the right. The whole is L-shaped.



I was gobsmacked the second I walked into the office. It was like stepping back in time. I have never, never been in an office so untouched by modernity. I WAS THRILLED.



Wow. And how cool would it be to work here!









Geez. If you like this ceiling, the company will make one for you.



Geez. You can order this, too.



Almost all the furnishings are wood, old, and fabulous. I would kill for this cabinet.



There are oak roll-top desks. Of course!



I had to pee, but upon entering the men’s room I forgot about my bladder and stood in appreciative wonder before the wood stalls. I even caressed them.



Mark graciously showed me a huge wood flat file packed with drawings going back over a century. I felt dizzy with archival lust.



Behind the main office are the manufacturing facilities. These HUGE rooms with HIGH ceilings are amazing. I am used to being in large spaces, like, say, Wal-Mart, but not when their entire roof structure is made of massive wood trusses. Wow.



In movies, I have seen equipment operated by contiguous leather straps, but have never seen this in real life. The whole place was permeated by a distinctive and endless Thwap Thwap Thwap. I wondered if the employees dreamt this sound?



Everywhere one looks are mouth-watering treasures beyond compare. My eyes were popping out of their sockets.









On the drive home, I (of course) was scanning for great old buildings. In Iola, KS, I slammed on the breaks when I saw this house. What, I wondered, happened to its tower?



Oh! The answer was on the lawn! I would love to know THIS story!


When I got home,

When I got home, I did some research on the house. This 2012 image show a truncated tower, and the house looking poorly. So, the new tower roof is a recreation of a long-lost feature! Well, I just adore whoever these restorers are!



I could not pass through Fort Scott with stopping by one of my favorite ever houses on Old House Dreams. The interior will cause you to faint. Really. I would also love to see the house with its original exterior color scheme restored. It would not have been white.



Right across the street (to the north) is this imposing 1876 pile. It has a kinda twin to its right, and the two are a B&B and Inn. The prairie-style porch is a later update. I would love to see an archival image of the lost original porch.



On the OTHER side of my favorite house is this wonderful pile. It also has a later porch.


In about eight weeks my turret finial should be ready after its facelift, and my new octagon finial should also be ready. So, another road trip!





  1. Cindi M on June 11, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    I may have to fight you for that cabinet!

    • Ross on June 14, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      They have more than one! We can each grab one!

  2. Tony Bianchini on June 11, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Thank you for taking us all along! Words alone cannot express the pleasure I experienced…

  3. Sandra G. McNichol on June 12, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    I have been excitedly waiting to hear about & to see wonderful “things” from your road trip, Ross! Thank you so much for sharing with us!

    I am blown away by the beautiful WF Norman facility, the ceilings, the work room, the bathroom stalls! – WOW! Totally awesome. I am so thankful that Mark’s father Robert purchased this business in 1978, and that they are keeping it going – it’s so so important to maintain American manufacturing companies state-side, and so so important that the art of this work continues.

    I want a beautiful big ornate tin (?) ceiling now.

    I want to work for WF Norman now; imagine how happy one would be just walking into that building every day?

    Cheers Ross – awesome.

  4. Cindy Sundell-Guy on June 12, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    What a wonderful post. I am putting up WF Norman ceiling tile now and loved the customer service we got from them. It was really fun seeing their building and the other historic houses. Thanks for taking the time to do all of your postings. I really enjoy them. Cindy

  5. Bethany on June 13, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    I know the Fort Scott house isn’t painted authentically but the white is reeeeeely pretty against the brick. . . just sayin’

    • Ross on June 14, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      I suspect the original colors would be even nicer!

  6. Amanda Hodson on July 13, 2016 at 7:22 am

    I echo what’s already been said- thanks so much for taking us along for the ride! I loved seeing those pictures of the WF Norman facility.

  7. Becky DeJesus on September 25, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    Ach, the ceilings!

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