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!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Verdammt Noch Mal!

Starting Friday afternoon, our plan of action for the weekend went straight to hell. About two weeks ago, I called RSC in Russellville to ask if they rented out floor sanders. They did. I got the price, hours, etc from them. Friday afternoon at 3 PM, I get a call from my wife. RSC didn’t have a sander. They told her that they SOLD their old sander and hadn’t replaced it yet. So, either they lied to me when I called, which may be why they were so interested in renting me a buffer/sander instead of a drum sander because, "all the contractors are using it." Right, we all know that means, absolutely nothing. Or, they sold it since then which seems a little wierd. In either case, I was pissed. So, I called the RSC in Little Rock and asked them if they had a sander. They did and they agreed to hold it for me. I used an hour and fifteen minutes of vacation time and left work early to pick it up.

I knew something was wrong when I pulled up in front of the store. The gate was locked and the place looked deserted. There was huge “For Lease” sign hanging on the fence. I’m think, “What in the seven hells?!”

I circle the block and stop at a gas station pay phone. I call them back. It turns out they moved to a new location in January. They give me directions. The new place is on the other side of town. I get there and rent the drum sander & the edger. I load up and get out of there just in time for rush hour. It takes for freaking ever to get home. Three wrecks block the highway and they bring traffic to a stand still. By the time I get home, I’ve been in my car for three hours. I'm tired and still a little pissed. My wife comes home from work. She’s tired and feeling a little sick, so we decide to scrap our plans of sanding all night long.

Saturday morning we get up early (for us), have breakfast, and head to Russellville. Our plan is to cruise some pawnshops, drop off some photos at Express Foto, and go to Lowe’s. The first pawnshop we walk into has my miter saw. The bastards who stole it put our gallon of denatured alcohol to good use. I haven’t seen the saw that clean since I took it out of its box. I didn’t say anything to the store owners. The police told us not to confront them, so we didn’t. We wrote down a detailed description of the saw, took one of pawn shop’s business cards, and left.

Saturday was one of those rare days when I wish that I had a cell phone. If I had one of those cool camera phones, I could have taken a picture of our saw for the police. And, if I had a cell phone, I could have called the police from outside the store. As it was, we hadn’t brought the police investigator’s phone number with us (duh), so we had to go back home, call the police, and then come back to Russellville to finish our errands.

In hindsight, I probably didn’t need to hurry home to call the police. I guess I was secretly hoping that they’d send out the SWAT team to kick some ass, but things are moving at a slower pace. We still haven’t heard from the police. I’m curious to see what they come up with.

By the time we were finished with everything, it was nearly 6 PM. None the less, we went on up to the Queen with the grand idea of sanding down the master bedroom and bathroom floor.

[Here is a photo of the master bedroom after we spent over an hour hauling a mountain of junk out of it.]

The master bathroom floor is “new” so it didn’t require any additional prep-work for sanding. The master bedroom was an entirely different story. At some point, the master bedroom floor was covered with linoleum. A twelve-t0-eighteen-some-odd-inch wide ring of sticky black gunk circled the room, the remains of the glue used to lay the floor. There is also a wide assortment of tacks, finishing nails, and framing nails driven into the floor. The best part was the tin patch though.

[A couple of pictures of Ms. Scarlet scraping the hell out of the floor. In case you're wondering about that hat, it was really cold that night.]

[It's a little hard to see, but this is the patch after I'd pulled up one corner of it. I was only minutes away from finding the Black Hole of Calcutta.]

A few months back I was pondering a similar patch in the living room (to read the original post and comments, click here). According to Gary, the “patch” was used to level out a depression in the floor so they could lay rolled linoleum. I pulled up the living room patch, and everything beneath it was intact. So, the moron that I am, I assumed that the patch in the master bedroom was the same. Nope. It covered a big hole and about 18 inches of dry rot. YES! It was my lucky day. Since my wife was there and we had the camera, we have a lot of before, during, and after photos of the repair. I’ll post those separately later this week.

[Another not so great photo. The two stubs of floor board between the vent (taped shut to keep dust out) and the base board, are hanging down about an inch.]

Oh, but it gets better. We also found a one inch diameter hole we believe was for a natural gas line (we’re thinking it was for a space heater). Not too bad of a problem, but a pain none the less. And, then there is the two sagging floor boards the heating/air guys left us. It probably isn’t all their fault since they used the existing air vent cutouts. However, they had to enlarge the holes by and inch or two to make the new air vents fit (they are slightly larger than the old ones). They had to notice that these two boards were sagging down into the crawlspaces, but, of course, they didn't mention it. The only thing holding them in place was the baseboard. Why didn’t we notice it earlier? We had too much shit piled in this room to get a good look at it.

After 10 PM, we called it quits. There was too much to repair, and we were getting tired. We decided that a good night’s sleep would do us some good, and then we’d give it another go Sunday.

Sunday was a big day, but I’ll post more on it later.

As a final note on RSC rentals, I'm pretty pleased with them - the branch in Little Rock that is. The equipement was in good working order, they only charge you for one day if you rent over the weekend, and they'll buy back the sanding paper you didn't use. The branch in Russellville can suck big hairy moose butt crack for all I care. I wouldn't recommend them to anyone. They're a national chain, so if you need a drum sander, check them out. Maybe you'll get lucky.


Blogger HomeImprovementNinja said...

Two thoughts:

1) I haven't heard of that place before, but it turns out they have a store only 7.9 miles from the ninja fortress. I will definitely check it out.

2) from a lot of the pics you posted, the queen looked in bad shape, but (aside from the floors) that room looked in pretty good shape. All the original moulding/trim looks like it's in pretty good condition.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

You should do ALL the prep work before you rent the sander. What do I care? We bought a used rental sander for $650 when we added up all the rental fees it would cost us to sand 9 rooms. It takes the time pressure off having one readily available. You can buy the paper online for much less than the rental place will charge you.
I have a 1" plug cutter. Let me know if your floor is pine or oak and I can send you some plugs for those 1" holes.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous jeremy said...

i found the same tin scraps nailed to my wood floors underneath vinyl tile and couldn't figure it out either - the floor was fine after i removed them. i used jasco floor adhesive stripper to get the mastic off after i removed the tiles and then sanded the rest off. i've read that the old adhesive can contain asbestos, so be careful. good luck - it took me forever to get all the old adhesive off.

12:39 PM  
Blogger John said...


The bedrooms seem to have been remuddled the least. They all have the original base boards, and they seem to be in pretty good shape. The rest of the house, as you mentioned, is pretty rough.


You know the word "DUMBASS" is tatooed on my forehead for a reason, right?

If I could find a sander for $650, I'd buy it too. If I'm smarter in the future, I think I can do all the floors in less than $650 in rental fees. Your house is a hell of a lot bigger than the Queen.

Thanks for the offer on the plugs.

All of our floors are pine. Let me count how many holes we've got this weekend. I'm thinking we have six, but, as my wife pointed out, it wouldn't hurt to check first.

Also, I still want to know what the hell a "yonk" is.


Thanks for the tip. I did some experimenting on it last weekend. My solution was a little less delicate. I tried 20 grip paper on the edger. It took it off in a heart beat, literally. Maybe it's not a good idea in light of the asbesto warning, but goddamn it was gratifing.

11:12 AM  

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