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!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Weekend Warriors at Work

We had beautiful weather this last weekend, sunny, blue skies, and the temperature was in the 70's. Like most people blessed with such wonderful weekend weather, we decided to do some plumbing. As most people familiar with construction work know, you seldom get to work on the project you intend in spite of your best intentions. Something always comes up once you get started and it always has to be done first.

We set out with the intention of working on our hall bathroom. When we got the Devil Queen this bathroom had a nice crypt like ambiance working for it (see photo above). It was an after-thought of a room made by partitioning off part of the front parlor. They also tore out the fireplace and lowered the ceiling from 12 to 8 feet. When I say they tore out the fireplace, I mean that literally. The chimney was left sitting on the new, lower ceiling. There was a real chance that you could be killed by a stack of bricks every time you used the toilet; only a couple of 2x4's separated you from a cause of death too embarrassing to include in your obituary.

The lowered ceiling wasn't enough to make the bathroom truly oppressive and claustrophobic. They thoughtfully clad the room in dark wood-paneling (stylish 1960-70's vintage) and Formica wainscoting and countertop for the sink. To complete the feeling of immanent entombment (since, chances were the chimney was going to fall on you) they decided against using a standard size door in favor of one pulled off the neighborhood kids' tree house. Unless you are related to my wife, you had to duck to enter.

We gutted this room months ago. We decide that we'd put in a tile shower instead of leaving the cast-iron tub they had somehow managed to wedge into this room. This bathroom backs up to the master bedroom's closet which was also an after-thought. When they'd installed this wall, they installed it over the door's trim. This bothered us and since the wall was sub-par in many ways we decided to demolish it as well.

Fortunately, the one thing I'm really good at when it comes to construction work is demolition. Charlie, my wife's grandfather, and I took the wall and other miscellaneous junk out in under 15 minutes. It was a great feeling of illusionary progress. I might also mention that Charlie is an amazing resource when it come to construction work. Not only does he know about carpentry & plumbing, he has also worked on lots of old houses, and he is willing to help for free.

Building a new wall took a lot longer. The biggest reason for this is that we spent about two hours searching through our salvaged wood pile looking for straight 2x4's and pulling all the nails out of them. At this point in the project, we have almost no money left so new 2x4's are not an option.

By the end of the day, we had a new wall. We could have begun laying the tile floor and shower subflooring, but my wife wants to pressure wash the room first. Lots of people throw fits over the idea of using a pressure washer indoors. I can, however, say from experience that it works and has had no ill effects on the house. So far the only room we've pressure washed is the kitchen. I should mention that the kitchen (as is most of the house) is made entirely of wood: wood floors, bead-board ceiling, and tongue & grove wall boards. There is no insulation in the walls or ceiling and you can look through the floor in places. As long as you mop up afterwards and don't leave any standing water, it works out fine. No warped boards or mold. In fact, the kitchen smells much better since we washed it; it got rid of that old house funk. I think most people image us pressuring washing the inside of a modern house with all of the carpet, drywall, osb chip-board, and what not. That would be disastrous.


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