The Cross House

You are going to be SO excited!


The Cross House, circa-1932. See the triple arched windows on the second floor? Image hugely enlarges if you click it, and click again. Courtesy Mouse Family archives.


The triple windows looked like this in 2014. See the paneling under 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.


So, I, gasp, removed it, and did a post on this. I always meant for this alteration to be temporary until I could figure out how to recreate the original design but minus the inherent rot factor.


My temporary solution made the center window look like it was floating. It just looked odd. At first, with SO much else unfinished this did not bother me. Much. But after all the painting was done of this facade, and the roofs redone, and the tower finial restored, and a finial recreated for the hexagon tower, the “floating’ window looked ever odder and odder.


During the last two years I gave the issue a lot of thought.

Initially I planned to just reinstall the two vertical trim boards at the side, and keep the shingles under the window. This would stop the window from floating, and keep water out of the house.

Then, after having so much fun working with WF Norman on the finials, and being so thrilled with their work, I knew they could create something out of molded galvanized tin. This would be a permanent solution, and would carefully recreate the original design. Whoee! I was quite pleased with my brilliance.

But…a lack of funds kept this idea from being realized. Don’t you hate when reality overrides vision?


So, I kept my thinking thinking cap on, furiously working 24/7 for a solution. And…and…I DID come up with something! It is NOT finished yet, but wanna see what I have so far? If so, scroll way down…
























Again, this is NOT finished. Still to come are the panels in the middle. When done by the end of the month (whether permitting) the look should mimic what was there. And be a permanent, rot-free solution. And for almost no money!!!!!!!! (NOTE: The piece of glass in the center window is temporary.)


What I did:

  • I cut two vertical lines along the shingles, and then removed all the shingles in between.
  • A new wide sill on the very bottom, out of pressure-treated lumber, was made, matching the lost original.
  • Groh & Sons had a large piece of sheetmetal with a impervious brown finish. I had this cut to size, and had their computer crimper give it a L at the bottom to shed water.
  • Two trim boards, made of PVC (plastic!) and of an all-important 5/4 thickness, were ripped to match the width of the lost originals.

Next to come is recreating the paneling effect out of 3/4 PVC. Even though plastic, the horizontals will have their top edges beveled to shed water.

All will get painted green. (I have no idea how it was painted in 1894, and the above images are non-original paint jobs.)

In time, water will get behind the paneling boards but to no effect. The boards, being PVC, cannot rot, and the water will just drip down the face of the metal, and drip off the sill on the bottom.

What I love is being able to take a flawed 1894 design and permanently resurrect it because of modern materials. A lovely dance between 1894 and 2017. I love this!

Well, I suspect you can imagine my great anticipation in the work being finished! I am quite breathless!


16 Responses to You are going to be SO excited!

  1. I am always amazed at what Restoring Ross imagines and then turns into reality. The Wizard of Cross House! I can’t believe anyone else could or would do what you do for this most deserving house. Carry on oh great Wizard

  2. Jim took the words right out of my mouth. Could not agree more. I wait with baited breath each time you run into an EEK moment. I look forward to seeing what amazing solution you’ll come up with — and they are always amazing. I will pop in one day to check out those beautiful floors as soon as the weather gets better.

  3. Genius, and as always, I am so impressed by your attention to detail. So many times when I am perusing Old House Dreams, I think, “Now this house needs Ross!”

      • I did Amy’s blog. Then came to yours from hers. And now I have two blogs from your blog you mentioned that I am now going to start reading. A RABBIT HOLE I TELL YOU! A RABBIT HOLE.

  4. It looks like the inside of the squares on the 1932 pic were darker than the surrounding, but maybe lighter than the green paint used on cornices… But is this a visual effect due to the embossed design of the panels??

  5. Great use of PVC! We also made the decision to use PVC on our old place in areas which are (a) prone to rot, and (b) high enough so one doesn’t touch them and realize that the material isn’t wood. As such, every bit of trim overhead on our front porch is PVC … soffit, fascia, and beadboard ceiling. Looks great and takes paint well.

    We will soon be rebuilding the windows of our barn in PVC. Replacements we used during the restoration 10 years ago are already rotting … didn’t realize at the time that guy we hired to build them used white pine. Grrrrrr! Ordering PVC barn sash from Menard’s + framing them in PVC 3/4 board = no more rot.

    • I love when new materials can help save old houses!

      Like you, I have had the awful experience of replacing rotted bits with new wood, and a short while later the new wood is rotted. Yes: Grrrrrrr!

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