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, August 10, 2005

Can't Get No Satisfaction

I can't believe it took me all week to get this post written. Sigh. It has just been a stupid, busy week.

We spent last Saturday and Sunday up at the Queen.

Saturday wasn't as productive of a work day as I would have liked. In theory I was supposed to 1) prep the kitchen for laying the new floor Sunday, 2) re-hang a window weight for one of the kitchen windows, 3) plug a hole in the kitchen wall (the old dryer vent), and 4) help with the last bit of touch-up painting in the kitchen.

I've come to hate working on our windows. I started with the kitchen window so I could get it out of the way and enjoy the rest of the day. As I fished the weight out of the wall, I noticed that there wasn't anything under the window sill. The window is sandwiched between two double-studs with nothing directly beneath it. Over the years, the window sill had slowly pulled down and away from the rest of the window. I pounded the sill back up and blocked it in place with some 2x4 cripple studs.

I returned my attention to the window weight. I decided that it would be easier to work on the top, outer pane from the exterior of the house. After spending weeks painting and caulking the kitchen, I had no desire to risk tearing our new paint finish up trying to get into the weight pocket behind the window trim. I quickly set up the scaffolding under the window just in time for a summer thunderstorm to darken the sky. I decided that standing on a metal scaffold was a poor idea since there was a lot of lightning. So, I headed inside.

Plugging the dryer vent hole was relatively easy yet time consuming. I then helped my wife with the last of the touch up painting.

The hardest part of painting the kitchen has been making a relatively straight line in the two corners where the sand and purple walls meet. The corners were never perfect from the day they were made. Before the 1970's wood paneling was installed, the ugly, uneven corner-seam was covered with a piece of trim (cove? quarter round?). Since we didn't much care for this look, we had to hide the seam in a different way. As such, we've used copious amounts of caulk to arrive at an approximation of an even corner. The best brush for painting these corners have been a $4.00 set of four, student-grade, artist brushes. They hold oil and water base paints equally well, they clean up wonderfully, and they don't fall apart. They were left over from the mural (the only brushes that didn't disintegrate) and they worked great. With these little brushes and some patience, the kitchen looks fairly good.

By that point, the rain was really coming down. I went out on the front porch to check out how the Big Dig was handling all the water. As I was standing there, I noticed water dripping on my shoulder. I looked up to find water leaking from the underside of the porch roof. I looked up to where the porch roof and house meet and found the wet spot shown in the photo below.

I went out into the pouring rain to see if there was an obvious trouble spot on the roof. The shingles were all intact, but the leak was directly below the spot where the front gable, the hip roof and the porch roof all meet. Somehow, water was getting under the shingles, running down until it hit the bead-board, running down the bead-board, and dribbling out on the porch.

My wife and I are pissed. For as much as we spent on the damn porches and for as long as it took the guys we hired to build it, you'd think that it would be structurally sound for more than one season. Hell, it probably never was sound, we just were never out on the front porch for a torrential rain. Not too long after that we called it a day.

The goal for Sunday was laying the new kitchen floor. It didn't happen. After dragging herself around for a couple of hours, my wife went home because she felt sick. Charlie and I leveled and patched a section of the old floor that had rotted away long before we got the Queen. We then layed tarpaper down over the old floor.

While we were pretty sure there was enough wood flooring left to do the kitchen, we'd never actually counted it all up. Charlie figured that we needed 54 rows of flooring, each measuring 13'6" long. We went out to the wood pile and began pulling nails and counting floor boards (my wife had started this job before falling ill). The tarp we had over the flooring was in tatters. The elements had not been kind to it. Saturday's storm had soaked some of the boards, so, as we de-nailed them, we laid them out to dry.

It looked like we had just barely enough wood for the kitchen, but it was very close. Maybe too close. Then we found more wood flooring in our catch-all wood pile. I took it as another sure sign that we have way too much in our yard. How else do you loose a stack of 10' to 16' floorboards?

We were certainly in the clear now. My father-in-law finished de-nailing the wood, Charlie hauled it to the back porch, and I stacked it neatly, with lots of air-gaps, next to the saw. It was 6PM by the time we finished.

So, once again, our kitchen floor has been deferred for another weekend. Baring an act of God, we are really ready for this weekend. I hope.

As for the leaking porch, my wife finally got a hold of the contractor that built it. He said that he'd come out to take a look at it. That was four days ago, and I have no idea if he made it.

Also, we are waiting for another theoretical happening this week. Entergy should be out this week to connect our main power line. If so, it is only a matter of time before the Queen is full of working ceiling fans.


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