The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Why the Devil Queen?

So, why is this house called the Devil Queen?

The house my wife and I currently live in was (and still is to a degree) a fixer-upper. Once we got the Devil Queen, we had trouble figuring out which house we were talking about when we were discussing house work. We started calling our current house Mr. Blue (it is painted blue) and our Victorian house was called Queen Anne. As this project became a voracious money pit, Queen Anne became the Devil Queen.

When we first started this project, we were hoping to get the house onto the National Registry of Historic Places. The main incentive for this was saving the home and obtaining government grants to help repair and replace her extensive gingerbread trim. I spent nine months researching the house's history for the National Registry application. According to their naming system, the Devil Queen's proper name would be the "Ransom "Van" Newton Vandorn Boswell, Jr., House." Hell of a mouth full.
The following is an excerpt from our National Registry application:
The Boswell House was built in 1890 at 514 West B. Street in Russellville, Arkansas. The house was built on Lot 6 of the Mary A. Russell Sub-division. . . The house was built for Mr. Ransom "Van" Newton Vandorn Boswell, Jr. Mr. Boswell, Jr., was the son of Ransom N. V. Boswell and his wife Elizabeth C. Higganson. Mr. and Mrs. Boswell, Sr. were originally from Georgia. They moved to the Russellville area in 1868 after spending several years in Monticello, Arkansas, where Mr. Boswell, Jr., was born.
Mr. Boswell, Jr., was a prominent business man, was a contractor, merchant, farmer, landowner, and member of the firm Luker Brothers Manufactures. Luker Brothers produced steel running plows, wagons, and buggies. He also organized the Russellville City Band.
Most of the above was found in the History of Pope County, Vol. 1.
To continue, Mr. Boswell was married three times. He out-lived his first two wives. The third survived him by 25 years. The Devil Queen, upon Mr. Boswell's death passed to his eldest son, Van Boswell. Van died two years later at the age of 33. The house then passed to his youngest brother, Vestal Boswell. Vestal owned and lived in the Devil Queen until he died in about 1987 or 1988. During the time that the Boswells owned her, the house was a well maintained and loved house. She was remodeled in the 1920's. At this time, indoor plumbing was added, a kitchen and dining room were added, and a portion of the back porch was enclosed to make a bathroom. Additional remodeling was done throughout the 1950's-1970's. It wasn't pretty. Lots of wood paneling, most of the base boards were removed, and the color schemes were awful. I've seen some other "remodeling" jobs in older houses and it could have been a lot worse.
Lois Tuttle Boswell, Vestal's wife, sold the house shortly after his death. The Devil Queen began a rapid decent into decay, passing through several owners before Sugar Creek Foods Inc. (i.e. Eskimo Pie) end up with the house.
Hopefully, if I can work some bugs out of our virus protection software, I'll get some pictures of the Devil Queen when we found up and on this blog.

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