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!

Friday, March 10, 2006

A Crime Story

They had probably been watching the Queen for a while, two or three weeks. Maybe more. They knew what early hour Kenny arrived and when he left in the afternoon. They knew that I often visited in the evening just after dark. They knew that we came out on the weekends to work or check on things.

They also had easy access to the house. They knew where all of our tools were and what we had. They'd probably walked through a time or two just to scope things out. It was all mentally catalogued well in advance. They probably appreciated the fact that there were working lights in most the rooms. It was easy.

Tuesday evening our neighbors, the H's, noticed a white Ford pick-up truck parked on the side of the road. A large, white, middle-aged man had been walking the neighborhood, wandering the vacant lots, and then returned to his truck. The H's pulled up next to the truck and rolled down their window. "Hello. Are you lost? Do you need some help?" In true Southern fashion, this turn of phase offers the person addressed the benefit of the doubt. It sounds polite and helpful, and, to an extent, it is. But, also carries a second, implicit meaning: who the fuck are you and what are you doing here?

The man looked at them and said, "No. I know exactly where I am." He rolled up his window and refused to speak any more. A few moments later he left.

That night between midnight and 4 AM a white Ford truck pulled into the Devil Queen's drive leaving 10 inch wide tire tracks. Instead of pulling up as close to the house as they could, they parked very close to the street. This means each round-trip to the Queen and back to the truck was probably about 100 yards. Why did they park there? They parked there because they had worked for us before.

Last year and the year before, the weather was much wetter. The clay earth was soft. The delivery man from Rideout and two contractors sank their trucks deep into the mud when they parked too close to the Queen. The ground near the road is firmer and less prone to becoming a morass. Everyone that has worked on the Queen for any length of time knows to park here.

There were probably two men, but they didn't take anything too big for one man to move. They worked careful and fast. Nothing was broken or thrown around. Items that did not interest them were set aside to clear their way to their chosen prize.

What they took is almost as interesting as what they did not take. A cheap, six-dollar lock from Lowes was taken, but the $200 Victorian door ringer it was sitting on was not. The old doors, the vintage locks & knobs, and architectural details were left. These men did not value old things.

These men loved tools, and they knew their tools. They took the best stuff we had: the Porter-Cable compressor and the Dewalt nail gun, the compact, collapsing ladder, and the portable table saw. They didn't waste their time with the cheap, no-name skill saws or battered hand tools.

The tools fall into two categories: those easily sold for good money and those they could keep for themselves to use.

It probably didn't take them more than ten minutes to wipe us completely out. About $1500 of borrowed equipment vanished. The hoard of tools we'd collected over four year was gone.

I still have some wrenches, screw drivers, pry bars, chisels, and tape measures, but I don't have a damn thing to drive a nail with. It's bad enough to be robbed, but stealing another man's hammer is a cold-blooded, personal insult.

Wednesday morning Kenny and his cousin came to work on the Queen. Kenny immediately knew something was wrong because the bat of fiberglass insulation he keeps stuffed under the front door was kicked to the side.

By 8:30 AM, Kenny had called my wife. Family and police were called.

It was just another lovely day at the Devil Queen.

3 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

To say that's a bummer is an understatement. I hate thieves. So any idea if you can prove it was who you think it is?

12:54 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Aww, I'm so sorry...I don't know what to say:( Speaking from our own personal experience with our remodel, it's taken every scraped together nickel and dime to get things done around here- I can only imagine how mad I would be if someone then came and stole the few tools we've been able to purchase over the months:(

I hope they catch the rats!

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Yokel said...

Are the cops looking at anyone who's been up to the house before / worked for you? Considering they knew not to drive up close?
Get any plaster casts of the tire tracks in good ol' CSI style?
Good luck anyway, hope stuff get's back to you somehow.

2:48 AM  

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