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, November 14, 2005

Hate Mongering and Six Degrees of Separation or Hell is Other People

You know you're doing something right if people both love you and hate you. There is nothing worse than indifference. If nothing you do matters enough to evoke an emotional response, why bother?

Lately, we've been feeling the hate.

Friday, I was off of work for Veterans' Day and my wife was not. I spent the day at home with my son, something I seldom get to do. One of the great things my son is that he takes a nap every afternoon. Having long been exiled to Cubical Land, an afternoon nap is as exotic as a Hawaiian vacation. As a general rule, when the baby sleeps, we all sleep. At four in the afternoon, I was asleep on the couch with our two cats.

I woke up shortly thereafter. I swore I heard a woman yelling my name, but the house was silent. I guess I dreamed it. I got up, wandered around the house to check on everything, and sat back down on the couch. I was considering going back to sleep when the phone rang.


"Hey Bro' how are you?" my sister asked.

"I'm good. Happy Birthday! I was going to call you a little later. What's up?"

"I've got some news for you, but you're not going to like it."

I was worried. My sister was using a tone of voice I associate with a distant relative having died or someone getting diagnosed with cancer.

"What is it?"

It turns out my sister was talking with Jill, her fiancé's mom, earlier that day. Jill has a sister that lives in Dardanelle, Arkansas (Dardanelle is about 25 minutes from Atkins, just over the river from Russellville). Her sister is a nurse who works at a hospital in Russellville (I think). One of her co-workers was complaining about, "a couple that had cut a house in half and moved it into their neighborhood" on Crow Mountain. This woman was mad because they'd, "brought the property value down." She said she was trying to get some neighbors together to sue them for damages. And, she claimed, the woman brought her son out to the house while she was scraping lead paint. Clearly, these are some truly heinous people.

Since we are the only people who've cut a house in half and moved it to Crow Mountain in living memory, I'm pretty sure that she's talking about us.

At first, I was worked up about this even though nothing she said was true with one exception. We did cut the Queen in half to move it. After thinking about this for a while and talking to a few people, I'm feeling better.

Well, sort of.

As far as suing for damages, bring it on. If they could even get an attorney to take the case, I believe it would get thrown out of court. What really bothers me is the allegation that we've exposed my son to toxic substances. I have no faith in the Department of Health and Human Services ability to do the right thing. All I need is some busybody to report us to the state because some ankle-bitter hates my old house. I am going to be very upset if social workers start turning up on my doorstep.

When we first moved the Devil Queen, we pissed off most of our neighbors. The subdivision we moved her to is covenant restricted. You can't put in a mobile home, you can't have barbwire fences, you can't have a house over two stories tall, you have to have at least 1500 square feet, et cetera. And, in most folks' covenants, you can't move in houses either, but we can. Why? The realtor that developed our subdivision switched attorney's midway through the development. When the new attorney took over, he didn't include this language in the covenants for the lot we bought. We were free and clear to move in the Queen.

Our neighbors didn't like it. We were never directly contacted by any of our neighbors, so we never knew who we pissed off. They'd call the realtor, and we'd hear about it from him. At one point, I think some of our neighbors threatened to sue the realtor. They never did, mainly because they don't have a case.

I can't help but be amazed how small the world is. In less than a week, the words out of this woman's mouth made it to my ears. It's funny how little separates us.

Hate Mongering Neighbor (0 degree) - Jill's sister (1st degree) - Jill (2nd Degree) - My Sister (3rd Degree) - Me (4th Degree).

We haven't met all the folks in our neighborhood yet. None of the ones we have met are nurses (that I know of). So, I asked my sister to get a name for me. You should always keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

"Well, don't go and antagonize them," my mom said. "They might vandalize your house or something like that."

No need to worry. I have no intention of contacting them. I just want to know who they are so I can keep an eye on them. And, if need be, I'll have a voodoo doll with their name on it.


Anonymous Brenda said...

From pix I've seen, your house doesn't look like it's exactly cheek by jowl with its neighbors, making a citydweller like me (whose neighbors' esthetic choices and lifestyles are in my face) wonder what the cryin' is about. Time to remind the neighbors of the oil sheik who bought a mansion compound in Beverly Hills ringed with faux-Greek statuary, who had all the marble goddesses painted flesh-colored...with pink nipples. Or, for something a bit less ghastly but also less apocryphal in the 'could be worse' department, they can come and tour my neighbor's back yard, where he has built a cement bunker filled with buckets of toxic chemicals from his contracting business.
As for lead, hey, I grew up hanging out with my dad as he torched off lead paint by the linear yard. Must've knocked at least a point off my SATs, but 800 is such a show-offy number anyway...

10:04 AM  
Blogger JLynnette said...

Some people will bitch about anything. I wouldn't let it bother me.

Hang in there.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Tony Maro said...

I agree that the neighbor is freaking out without cause, however I've also learned that sometimes it's best to make friends than enemies.

For instance, I used to live next door to a guy who had been in and out of prison. His mom was great, but he was... not all there after Vietnam if you get my meaning. He hated the fact that my magnolia dropped leaves that invariably mother nature blew into his yard. I should have had a clue when one day I found all the leaves raked in the yard and dropped in huge piles on my front steps.

I called the cops on him one day after he had attacked my tree breaking all the lower branches he could.

Finally I just told my wife "Screw it, it's not worth it" and paid someone $50 to take the darn tree down.

My neighbor was great friends with me afterwards and would even bring gifts and chat and watch over the house when we were gone. He still wasn't quite all there, but at least the part that was there considered me to be a great friend.

Should I have had to cut it down? No. But it was a great investment. Taking him to court wouldn't have solved anything, and given his past...

Perhaps you should have an architect draw up a sketch of the outside of the house after renovation and landscaping, and give one to each neighbor along with a basket for Christmas, and a "newsletter" explaining how the renovations are progressing. But keep out calling the house the "Devil Queen" or next thing the neighbor will be claiming you sacrifice cows in the backyard.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

But keep out calling the house the "Devil Queen" or next thing the neighbor will be claiming you sacrifice cows in the backyard.

He does sacrifice cows in the back yard! I have never seen it but I heard it from a man whos brothers uncle is married to a real estate agent in outer BF Arkansas who had a conversation with her dentist who knows for a fact that he does this because she heard it from a nurse in Russelville while she was removing a hemorrhoid from someone living on Crow Mountain. It must be true! If the neighbor didn't have the hemorrhoid they would be a perfect asshole!

12:13 PM  
Blogger Patricia W said...

It almost sounds like a bit of jealousy. Those people will never have a house as lovely as yours because they just don't make them like that anymore. I know codes and whatnot are set up for a reason but sometimes neighborhoods take it too far and interfere too much with personal business. I don't think you have anything to worry about.

3:52 PM  

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