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, August 01, 2005

Home Improvement Juggernaut

We spent four manic days and nights working on the Queen. We didn't get everything on our list finished, but I think we got close enough to feel good about it. And, I must say staying on schedule was made entirely possible by the countless hours of volunteer help we had this weekend. A heart felt thank you is the least we can offer.

Our permanent electric pole is finished (again), this time in accordance with Entergy's specs thanks to my father-in-law's perseverance. Entergy should be out in two to three weeks to hook it up.

The kitchen is ninety-percent painted thanks to two friends coming down from Siloam Springs to help. We still need to cut-in the corners. We tried taping them off, but it didn't work. The paint seeped under it and the corners are not entirely straight (the joys of beadboard). It looks pretty ratty, so we'll be practicing the Zen of straight-line painting. There is a section of kitchen wall that needs the full treatment: priming, caulking, and painting. It wasn't up when all the painting started so it missed out on the fun (photo below).

Even with all the painting remediation, I think we are on tract to have the kitchen floor in by the end of next weekend. The week after that we'll be ready to sand the floors in half the house. After that? Who knows, there is no shortage of things to do. There is some siding that needs to be replaced, the cabinets need to be installed, walls need to go up, et cetera.

The Siloam Springs contingent and my wife managed to restore the large kitchen window to working order. In the last 30 years, someone "fixed" the window. They nailed in everything so tight that the there wasn't enough play for the windows to move up or down. With some judicious banging, scraping, and prying the window was restored.

The ceiling in the main hall received five hours of attention, but not much progress was made. I hoped to finish reinstalling the whole hall ceiling, but the good-housework-mojo was in short supply.

When we started working on the Queen, I never imagined that one of my favorite tools would be a two-ton truck jack.

If everything moves according to plan, our bulldozer man should be excavating a drain for the seasonal lake under our front porch Tuesday. I'm curious, excited, and anxious about the whole thing. I'm hoping that it works. I'll be thrilled if it does, but I'm worried about how we're going to pay for it. He charges $55.00 an hour and said that it would be a "full day's work." I'm not sure what that translates into in real hours. I have a feeling that a lot of stuff will be finding its way onto eBay this week.

The picture above is a bit out of order. It's the last section of kitchen wall being installed. I didn't have enough of the original wood left to finish this wall. I had to salvage the same pattern of wood from other parts of the house. Most of it came from the original porches. The rest came from strange places. Every time they "upgraded" the Queen, they cannibalized boards from all over the house and beyond. We've found them in the attic, in dropped ceilings, and closets. No matter where these pieces of beadboard came from, they all looked exactly the same until you try nailing them up. They have a 1/16 to 1/8 inch variation of width. If you try to switch boards mid run, you start running into problems. The obvious solution is to only use one type of board for each run. This works fine until you run out of wood. Then you have to make do with what you've got. In caulk we trust.

I devoted nine hours to the mural on Monday. I would like to say that it is done, and I could probably get away with calling it finished but something isn't quite right. No one else would probably notice or care, but I would. Since it's in the middle of town, it'd be hard to avoid.
I think that an hour or two of touch up work would fix the problem. I hope.


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