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, March 09, 2006

A First Time Fugly

The first time you try doing something on your own, you are bound to screw something up (unless you’re Greg in which case it looks pretty damn good). Fortunately, we’ve managed not to do too much wrong with the Devil Queen. Well, nothing that we couldn’t fix before someone else saw it. This, however, is a notable exception.

What can I say? We were young, stupid, and in a real hurry. I’m sure you can tell. I mean, why else would the main sewer line run out from under the front porch? And, as Greg correctly guessed in a previous post, this is exactly were the front stairs should go.

I can’t even begin to estimate how many hours my wife and I, our contractors, friends, and family have stood around wondering what in the hell we are going to do with this monstrous bit of PVC plumbing.

Two weekends back, before I got the flu, I started work on my master solution for this problem. The short explanation is I’m going to bury the damn thing. Here is another before photo.

And, here are some in-progress photos after an afternoon spent rolling rocks around.

When I’m feeling wildly optimistic, I think I’m about a quarter of the way done with this little bit of landscaping. The rest of the time I am wondering how it's going to get this finished. The truth is somewhere in between.

There are two potential problems this “solution” creates in and of itself.

One, it leaves a small, narrow gully running between the house and the rock retaining wall. This means I’m going to have to make sure that there is sufficient drainage to keep water from collecting here. I’m also going to have to clean out dead leaves and other woodland debris to keep this from becoming a snake den too. There isn’t anything more exciting than a tangled mass of peeved copperheads outside your front door, but I’m just not into that kind of excitement.

Two, it raises the ground up awfully close to level with the porch. Instead of front steps we may have a front step. My wife has an interesting idea to solve this problem, but we haven’t fleshed it out yet.


Blogger derek said...

Doesn't it have to be at a certain depth, so it doesn't freeze? I think our's is around 6' underground. Your sewer line should always be lower than the water supply. It looks like more than a 1/4" per foot slope, so maybe it can be lowered? I know it's a lot of digging, been there done that. I have to dig out our water line this summer, it's the original galvanized line.

8:47 AM  
Blogger John said...

I'm not sure about the freeze issue. Ideally, it should be buried, but I seem to recall some slab built homes that have sewer line running out of an exterior wall. Whether this is kosher or not is a whole different matter.

The problem with digging down deeper is we can't. When they dug the hole for the septic tank, they had to use something called a "rock hoe." It made it through a few layers of sandstone before it hit solid bedrock. They tried everything short of TNT to get it deeper, but that was it.

What I'm afraid of is that we'll get the water/sewer up and running only to discover that the sewer-septic system doesn't work right. Depending on how it goes, we may have to dig a new pit for the septic and field lines, dig up our existing system, and move it. Then we'll have to replumb the sewer line out of the house.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

Here is an idea for you. Rather than bury it, hide it. Build a brick structure over it like a low wall to attach a hand rail to and add a cleanout access in the wall to make life easier for you if the thing ever clogs up.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I’m flattered, but seriously, don’t look to close at some of my work….

I like Gary’s idea and I had the same thought as I was reading it. I see some houses where there is a ledge that starts on either side of the top step and continues horizontally to the last step. The whole thing is boxed in and creates a place for flower pots or some cool concrete lions or urns. You could hide the drain in there.

4:32 PM  
Blogger John said...

Gary & Greg,

Thanks for the ideas, particularly regarding the clean out. You've actually anticipated the direction we were thinking about taking this little project. I'll take your comments as an omen that we're moving in the right direction.


10:15 AM  

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