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!

Thursday, August 04, 2005


I was reading Greg's August 3rd post (The Petch House) and he got me wondering about something. He mentioned that people commonly mistake his redwood, tongue-in-groove floor for the house's sub-flooring. It occurs to me that with the exception of the additions to the Devil Queen, our house has no sub-flooring. Just three inch wide tongue-in-groove pine floors laid directly on the floor joists. The Davis House (the house we tore down for salvage materials) didn't have a sub-floor either. I can't remember seeing an old home in Arkansas that had a sub-floor original to it.

I can't decide if folks here were too poor to have two layers of flooring (doubtful, the Boswells had money when they built the Queen), a sub-floor was deemed undesirable for some reason, or if they were following some sort of local building tradition lost to us in the shuffle of time.
How common are sub-floors in Victorian or other old homes? Thoughts?


Blogger amanda said...

We don't have a subfloor either (house built in 1915). This terrified one contractor we had come to estimate tile for the kitchen. He told us that the floor was going to collapse! Ha! The floor refinisher said that these pine floors WERE our subfloors- back in the day, there wasn't any plywood, so this is what they used, then some other type of floor was applied on top of it (linoleum in the kitchen, carpet, whatever).

12:21 PM  
Blogger amanda said...

Oh, the floors aren't going anywhere. The tile guy was an a-hole and estimated $5k for tile for our little kitchen. Yeah, right! Stupid Lowe's approved contractors.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

I had assumed our wood floors had no subfloor but our original plans (which we've had for a month or so now) called for subfloors under the pine floors. This was a built to be a fancy summer home.

Should I run out now and crawl under the house with the snakes to check if they followed the plans? I'll be right back....

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Oops. I got distracted by a cup of iced coffee in the freezer and got that instead. Now, of course, I'm busy with my drink.

I've been wondering about this issue lately myself, so I'll have to take a look soon.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Patricia W said...

That is really interesting. I asked my aunt about it and she said some homes were built without hardwood floors. She said that my grandma bought an orchard about 65 years ago and the farmhouse didn't have hardwood, they had it installed after moving into the house. When was it built? If around the time of the Civil War there may have been a shortage of hardwood for some reason.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I have read many posts on the discussion of sub floors and finish floors in old houses on several different web sites and forums. There does not seem to be any consistency. My first house here in Eureka is only a few blocks away and built 20 years earlier. It had no sub floor. Just 1X4 T&G fir right on the joists. It seems to be the preference of the builder as to how and when a sub floor is laid down. Although, my 1895 house has sub floors (even on the porches!) the 2-story, 1922 addition did not. They used the same 1X6 T&G redwood, but installed it with out a sub floor. I kind of wished that had put a sub floor in the addition. I could use the lumber. :-)

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

I got curious and checked it out: 1x6 T&G subfloor set on the diagonal under 1x4 flooring.

1:36 PM  
Blogger derek said...

A lot of the old floors weren't tongue and groove, they were face nailed, with finish nails with square heads.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Joe Remodelo said...

I don't believe hardwood floors became popular until after the turn of the 20th century. That's when you start seeing the thin oak flooring appear. Pine, at least in this part of the country, was the norm. I think that building without subfloors was the norm rather than the exception.

We're replacing our floors with heart pine tongue and groove planks to be more consistant with the period of our furniture.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

We just have T&G wide fir floors also. The exception is the thin maple laid over the fir in the dining room. Someone told us once that it looked like flooring from an old school house and that it was probably taken from one and installed when hardwood became popular.

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never seen a really old house(mine is 1770 in North Carolina) with a subfloor. I think they were unknown till the Victorian era. Two rooms in mine have latter floor on top of the original(badly done, 1940's or 50's mess, wish they had left it alone). Upstairs is tongue and groove but down is straight cut, all face nailed.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

I think you will find that sub-floors are a product of the 1940s when they started laying pine planks diagonally across joists for added strength because all the "Virgin Forests" were gone by then and wood quality was no longer what it used to be. Thin oak flooring strips were then being used as the hard wood floor of choice. Some floors were laid with oak around the edges of a room and pine in the center where it would be covered by a rug as early as the 1890s around here. Our house, built in 1845 appears to have 1" thick ash tongue in groove multi width planks on the first floor and in the main bedroom. It has darker, lighter weight "gumwood" or "fruitwood" multi width planks in the remaining 2nd floor rooms. It is my guess, but sub floors only exist where lower quality flooring planks were used ant that is in homes built after WW1.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

Our 1874 Victorian Vernacular Farmhouse does not have subfloors either. It has just has the wide planked pine floors.

5:09 AM  
Anonymous kingstreetfarm said...

1740 farmhouse in New York subfloors original to the house, just 18" wide pine (!!!) boards laid on top of the framing.
Unfortunately most of the wide plank floors were covered with 4" wide oak, probably in the Victorian era, but we figure even that is old enough to make us happy ;)

4:11 PM  

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