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!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mending My Ways

My sister called this weekend. We’ve both been busy, so it had been a while.

“Bro, you haven’t been posting much on the blog. I check everyday but there hasn’t been much lately. What’s up?”

This is an excellent question. Mostly, I’ve been very busy, injured, and bedeviled by a series of plagues. A lot is going on, but it hasn’t had too much to do with the Queen lately. In fact, I’m starting to get anxious because so little has gotten done since the weekend I tore my thumb off and the tornadoes came through.

I’ve been milking that lame hand excuse for a couple of weeks now, so it’s time for me to get off my ass and get back to work. If nothing else, I have the blog to consider.

Since everyone in my family is now sick or recovering (wife – recovering, son – ill, in-laws – sick & recovering), I went up to the Queen alone to work on closing in the hole in the floor where the fireplace use to be.

As you would expect, the first thing I did was find something else I needed to fix first. As part of the process, I spent a lot time laying in the shallow end of the crawlspace pondering out my problem. It was almost cozy with the halogen lamp and all that shiny, new ductwork. I took or tried taking several pictures with our new camera, but I’m having trouble downloading the images. So, you’re stuck with my long, confusing explanation instead.

My problem is two fold. First, the closet addition to the room sucks ass. Second, the front bedroom’s floor has settled and/or pulled away from the interior wall which houses the fireplace and closet.

The problem with the floor is pretty obvious. If you stand close to the wall and look down at the trim, you can see into the crawlspace. The floor is also very springy, particularly close to the fireplace. At first I thought I’d have to jack up the floor, brace it, and maybe add a couple of piers, but I was wrong.

If you are standing in the front bedroom facing the fireplace, the floor joist run from left to right across the room. As such, the floor boards are laid perpendicularly to the joists or front to back if you rather. From what I can tell, the room has been deformed by the bedroom’s front wall being pulled forward away from the back wall housing the fireplace. This has pulled the end of every floor board loose from the joist next to the wall. This means that the last 16 or so inches of the floor is just floating in air. If you got someone big enough to jump up and down on them, they’d go straight through. Lovely.

The solution seems simple enough. Crawl into the crawlspace and nail a 2x4 (or something of the like) into the original joist. The floorboards will be supported, the weight will transfer to the joist, and the bouncing fat man ought to be safe and happy. I tried this out on the floor to the left of the fireplace which houses the closet. It seems to have worked.

The downside is that I discovered just how bad the closet addition to the room was while working on the floor.

This closet was added to the Queen somewhere around 1970 when the most damage was done to the house. The trim is the standard, 3-to-4 inch pine crap they still sell at Lowe’s and the door is a louvered, “accordion” door on a sliding track. It does a great job of blending in the original 1890’s look. The dribbled on polyurethane gives it a vintage used look.

The most immediate problem I have with the closet is its door. The wall the closet is set in has three studs in it. One stud is all the way to the left (joins the wall facing the main hall), one is all the way to the right (butting up to the fireplace) and one is in the middle of the wall. When they cut out the closet doorway, they cut through the middle stud. They didn’t build a header (well, none of the old doors seem to have headers) or frame in the opening with 2x4’s either. The tongue-in-groove wallboards are being held in place by the door trim. This also means the closet door is being supported by its trim as well.

I discovered that there was something wrong with the closet door/wall when I was pulling up the half-assed “threshold,” an ugly, misshapen board occupying the space between the closet floor and the bedroom floor. Really, it doesn’t even deserve the distinction of being half-ass. It’s all hairy ass with several ominous, smelly cracks. As I tried to pry it up, I noticed the whole wall was moving. I pulled off a piece of door trim and discover that it was floating, more or less. Later, while I was pounding in nails in the crawlspace, a couple boards actual popped off the wall. I have no idea how the closet has lasted this long. I consider it a testament to the holding power of dirt, dust and mouse shit.

Anyhow, I don’t want to burry you in all the minutiae of my shitty closet. Actually, it’s my circumspect way of saying I’m tired of thinking about the damn thing, but it sounds better if I give an altruistic spin to it. And, as my wife said later that night, it’s not like we weren’t going to overhaul it anyhow.

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