The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

My Photo
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!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Paradox of “Good” Neighborhoods

The police called my wife yesterday to follow-up on our stolen tools. They mentioned that several other people in our area had reported stolen equipment too. It seems that we aren’t as special as we believed. Unfortunately, they don’t have any leads either at this time.

My wife and I can’t escape the irony of our situation. The house we currently live in (Mr. Blue) is in a “bad” neighborhood by local standards. It’s called Pea Ridge (not to be confused with a Civil War battlefield in NW Arkansas of the same name), and it is about 4 to 5 miles outside of Atkins. The homes are an odd mix of share-cropper shacks, old shotgun houses, ancient mobile homes (single and double wide), abandoned chicken houses, and a few “nicer” ranch houses. Most of the homes have sever deferred-maintenance issues to the point of that they are on the verge of collapsing. Hell, one house was gutted by a fire and I didn’t notice for over two weeks. Yes, some of the homes are that bad. And, we also have a cemetery. I like it, but it apparently creeps a lot of people out. Weenies.

Most folks in Atkins and Russellville think this is a terrible neighborhood. They think that the people are all poor (most are), trashy (a lot are, some aren’t), and thieves (if there are any here, I’ve never met or heard about one). The only documented case of criminal activity was a short lived meth-lab at the end of the road. That didn’t last long. The police had the place staked out after they accidentally launched their kitchen stove out the roof and into someone’s backyard with an explosion of mysterious origin. Most people can’t figure out why we live here since we appear to be nice, clean, college educated people. When we tell them where we live, they look at us like we’re crazy.

The Queen’s neighborhood is considered a “good” neighborhood. Development is restricted by covenant (no barbed wire, mobile homes, chicken houses, a minimum of 1500 square feet, et cetera), the lots are large, most have a view of the Ozark Mountains, and the rest have a year-round creek. The people that live there are solidly middle class with good jobs (in local terms this means a lot of them work at the nuclear plant).

I grew up in West Little Rock which is (was?) considered a good neighborhood. Vandalism, burglary, and theft are chronic problems. My father lives in Maumelle, a high-end planned community, outside of Little Rock. The subdivision he lives in now is nicer than the one I grew up in. Car windows are smashed out and their CD’s and stereos are stolen on a regular basis. Burglary is less common, but there has always been a good bit of vandalism.

The irony is that in the four years we’ve lived in Pea Ridge, no one has ever robbed us or our neighbors. We’ve left our door unlocked and we’ve had huge piles of tools & building materials stacked in our carport (which is in plain view from the road) but no one has ever stolen from us. In my limited experience, “good” neighborhoods have far more crime than the shantytown community I live in. The amenities and standard of living are sub-par in Pea Ridge, but I think my property and my family are safer there. Who would have guessed that? I’m always amazed at how bizarre the workings of the world are.


Blogger Greg said...

That is an odd paradox.

The local paper used to put out a monthly crime map of the city with a little dot, triangle , or square where crimes occurred. The different symbols were for different types of crimes. They would also show statistics for the same period the year before. Most of the West side of the city (where I live) is considered the “Bad Part” of Town by many. Really, though, there were a few trouble spots on the West side and the rest of the area was no worse or better then the “Good Side” of town. It was mostly just perception. I wish they still published the map.

1:24 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Web Site Counter
Website Counter