The Cross House

What a Day!!!!!!!!

The Cross House has two towers, a turret and octagon. Each was designed to be topped with a finial. All these images enlarge. (Courtesy Mouse family archives)


Walter Anderson Collection - from ESU Archives.
You can just see the finial on the turret in this image when the house was brand new. But the octagon tower is obscured by trees. Had its finial actually ever installed? (Walter Anderson Collection – ESU Archives)


Imagine, thus, my great delight when the Mouse family graciously gave me this amazing circa-1932 image! It confirms that the octagon tower did, indeed, originally have its finial installed. And in that instant, great lust was created, as the finial no longer existed. MUST HAVE FINIAL! MUST HAVE FINIAL! (Courtesy Mouse family archives)


This is a circa-1950 image of the house when it was the Mouse PALACE MOTEL. I have had this image from Day 1, but until today never noticed something. See it? HOW could I have missed it???????? (Courtesy Mouse family archives)


This June, the house had NO finials! I had the turret finial removed so it could be restored by WF Norman, and I commissioned them to recreate the lost octagon finial. Now, are you sitting down? If so, please scroll way down…
























TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Incredible!!!!!!!! I am freaking out! FREAKING OUT!








I was driving into Emporia to have an 11:30 lunch with David, who is a reader of this blog.

Five minutes before I arrived, my cell phone rang. It was Groh Roofing. Did I want the finials installed today?

Ummmm….YES! They said they could come by with The Big Truck after 1PM.

So, I met David for lunch, and we discussed…EEK…politics (NOTE: no one was killed during the conversation). Rudely though, I kept glancing at my watch. Was it 1PM yet? Yet? Yet?


When David and I arrived at the house, The Big Truck, and many men, where already there! ZOUNDS!


The octagon finial is flying! Flying!


And shortly thereafter the octagon tower was, after a long absence, graced again with a finial!!!!!!!! Incredible! I am gobsmacked!


My big big BIG concern with both finials was that they NOT get installed crooked. I recalled only too well the trouble Matt had with his tower! Matt has been beautifully restoring his house, and I LOVE MATT! (Image lifted from Matt)


Initially though, the turret finial DID get installed a bit crooked. See? EEK! EEK! EEK!


So it was unscrewed, shifted, and re-attached. All the leveling was eye-balled by David, Kurt (the owner of Groh), and myself from ground-level. In the TERRIBLE heat I kept kinda jogging between vantage points, terrified, TERRIFIED that I would end up with a crooked finial. Kurt was quite gracious about my paranoia.


The process of installation was gripping. No, really!


And the turret finial was flying! Flying! (Image David Flask)


Houston? We are approaching contact.


Houston? We almost have a landing! (Image David Flask)




And thank-you, Houston!


And now, in my air-conditioned office, I am am quite teary-eyed looking at this image.


All this took 2-1/2-hours. And even though I did not actually install anything, or even handle a tool, I was exhausted. Emotionally. Terror! Paranoia! Worry! Great ecstatic joy!

As soon as Groh departed, I hopped into my air-conditioned car, drove home, and took a nap!

Now, hours later, I am a sea of tranquility, and looking at these images makes me so friggin’ happy.

Oddly, I am particularly delighted about the small octagon finial. For, it was gone, but now…it’s back. I feel good, damn good, that I made the effort to have this small bit made.

Beautiful houses comprise many many small bits. Too often, time erodes these small vital parts, and it’s a joy being able to bring one back.

Me. Happy.




25 Responses to What a Day!!!!!!!!

  1. When I first started reading I thought ” OMG no… he did not. He did NOT crawl up to put those on ! Please no !” Once I saw the crane I could relax and enjoy. They are gorgeous

  2. Enjoy your freak ole’ friend for you certainly deserve it. The finials look awesome, and as a matter of fact, the whole house looks great in these pictures. Tear worthy!

  3. Look at the picture where Ross says the turret finial is flying. Then look at the two after that that reference Houston. I KNOW, right? I was repeating over and over “Don’t drop it. Don’t drop it. Don’t drop it…”. All extremely sotto voce so I didn’t add to Ross’ already fragile state. Of course, the Groh guys were the model of professionalism and performed flawlessly. Phew! I am embarrassed to say that if it had been dropped, I was all set to quietly get in my car and drive back to Wichita without looking back. I’m pretty sure my nerves would not have survived the ensuing trauma. And I know Ross has lots of local friends to help pick up the pieces–of the finial AND Ross!

  4. Happy Day! We need more people like you with your craziness, but the heart to give old homes some tender loving care.

  5. Amazing how much the finials have added to the overall appearance of the house. They absolutely are worth all of your hard work. How wonderful you have so many who are cheering you on throughout this journey you are on. Congratulations on completing this enormous step.

  6. What Merryl said! You are FREAKING AWESOME. You are doing Emporia such a service by restoring the Cross House.

    I’ll be back in Emporia soon, and I can’t wait to drive by and see what you’ve accomplished in person. Because it’s FREAKING AWESOME!

  7. Just when I think she couldn’t get more beautiful!!! God bless you for being who you are. For seeing this house for the Grand Lady she was and could be again! I fall in love more every time I read a new post. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

  8. This is beautiful! Oddly (or not oddly at all), they transform the house from amazing to astounding. Amazing what these two small details do to the overall house. Gorgeous!

  9. Oh I love them. First the color was a great choice.They really show up on the roof being that color. Second, I had no idea the first one was that big. In pictures of it by itself it looked way smaller. But then you see it with the guys and wow…again had no idea of its size. They look spectacular Ross!

  10. That looks amazing! It really is those little touches that make such a grand house so handsome.

    It’s cool how big those are! It’s hard to really grasp the scale until you see the poor guy hugging it on his way up in the man basket!

  11. I am absolutely a cautionary tale how to make sure your finial is straight. Every time I look at mine I think I want to get it fixed. I ask myself is renting a bucket lift for $500 worth it to get it straight? So I wait until I need a bucket for another project like the chimney or a neighbor does similar heights repairs to their roof. I love you too and yours looks fabulous!!!!!

  12. I think the picture of Matt’s house shows nicely why your experiment with the original wall colour didn’t work – it’s not the yellow itself, it’s the green that didn’t coordinate with your original colour! It’s perfectly fine with what you chose in 2014 but for the much lighter original shade it’s too yellow. Did you ever get the green analysed? I tried to adjust white balance on your pictures of some carriage house trim to compensate yellowing with age and it looked like you got the green spot-on but a pro might still find something else.

    • The green trim color I am using is spot on to the 1894 trim color. I found a pristine section and had Sherwin Williams computer copy it.

      The wall color, as I later discovered, is NOT the 1894 wall color, but the SECOND wall color the house was painted.

      The results, therefore, are a happy accident.

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