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!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Mud, Ticks, Beer

That pretty well sums up The Devil Queen related activities for the weekend. Sorry if this post borders on being incoherent. I almost slept four hours last night, so I'm not at my best.

Friday night my wife and I met at the Queen after work. We did a quick walk through and made a list of things we needed to conquer our plumbing project. We also took the old clawfoot tub faucet so we could make sure all the new parts we bought for it actually fit before we left store.

After a quick dinner, we went to Lowe’s in Russellville. Normally I have pretty scathing things to say about this particular Lowe’s, but I was pleasantly surprised Friday night. Allen, the plumbing department manager, spent over an hour helping us with our antiquated faucet. By the time we left Lowe’s, he’d more or less completely rebuilt the faucet for us, and it was ready to install as is. It was a wonderful experience. There may be hope for that store yet. A thousand thank-you’s to Allen.

Saturday we had hoped to make it up to the Queen by 9 AM or so. It didn’t happen. We didn’t make it there until about 1 PM. That left us seven hours to re-install four cut-off valves, install the drain & faucet on the clawfoot tub, connect the plumbing system to the main waterline, install a toilet, and buy food et cetera for the 8 PM party. Oh, and did I mention that it was raining too?

We made pretty good time at first. It took us a little over four hours to finish all the plumbing minus the toilet (I still had to go pick that up). We had to wait a couple hours for all the PVC glue to set, so we divided and conquered. My wife stayed to clean the Queen up for the party, and I went to get the food and toilet.

I made it back to the Queen a little after 6 PM.

It was the moment of truth, would the plumbing work!? I cranked it on and ran back to the Queen to help my wife check everything.

Me: “How is it?”

Wife: “The bathroom is fine, but I can hear running water somewhere.”

Me: “Oh shit.”

We quickly found the problem which appeared to be tankless hot water heater in the master bedroom closet. Water appeared to be squirting from both the in and out lines. I ran back outside and turned the water off.

We checked the water heater lines, but we couldn’t find a leak. It seemed that the water was shooting up around the pipes from the crawlspace. Hmmm.

So, back into the crawlspace we went. It looked bad. We had to crawl through a lot of mud to make it to the area of the leak. Since we’d already insulated all the pipes, it made finding the leak difficult. We ended up stripping a lot of insulation off the pipes before my wife found the problem: someone (I’m blaming Charlie even though it could have been me since he wasn’t there to defend himself) forgot to glue one of the pipes coming out a T-coupling. Nice. On the upside, since nothing was cracked or broken, we could just dry it off and glue as-is. It was after 7 PM by the time we finished gluing the joint. We’d now have to wait two more hours before we could try turning the water on again.

We went to work preparing for the party. Fortunately, our friends from Springdale arrived early and helped us get everything set up. With their help, the stereo was hooked up, the toilet was installed, the charcoal grill was assembled & lit (we had to nix the cooking over a bonfire due to the torrential rain), and everything came together beautifully. Well, almost.

There were two problems. One, the water feed-line from the cutoff to the toilet tank was too short, so we had to bucket-flush the toilet. This wasn’t too bad since the tub faucet worked. Two, the drain on the tub leaked, but we didn’t notice until later in the evening. I think we just needed to tighten the pipe joints on the drain, but at 2 AM we decided it could wait until next weekend. Fortunately, we had a lot of rags on hand for a quick clean-up.

We had a pretty good turn out (friends and a lot of folks from my wife’s office). At 9 PM, we introduced everyone to a new party game. With their drinks in had, everyone was stationed near a plumbing fixture or valve, and told to scream if they got sprayed with water. I turned that water back on and no one got wet. It was a brilliant success (minus the afore mentioned snafus)! For the first time since 1996, the Devil Queen had water!

Cindy was the first person to use the bathroom in the Devil Queen. I’m sure it was the crowning achievement of her life.

Nothing too much else happened at the Queen this weekend. My wife and I didn’t make it back to our other house until about 4:30 Sunday morning. We took the rest of the day off.

As for the ticks, there isn’t too much to that. The Queen is in the middle of 3 acres of woods, and we spent a day and a night outside. Bloodsuckers were inevitable (the rain also kept us from poisoning the little bastards).

There is more to tell and even some pictures, but that will have to wait until later in the week.


Blogger Archimedes24 said...

So wait, did anyone get ticks, or not? If it was raining, you all shoulda been inside!

That *IS* a great party game!! Whatya call it? "Booze Sluice?" or maybe "When you're drunk, plumbing CAN be fun"?

Anyway, I'm sorry you had so much stress leading up to it, but it sounds like you had a great time at the party. Glad to hear it, you guys needed it!

3:54 PM  
Blogger JLynnette said...

You guys are brave. I hate parties and would never voluntarily throw one.

Glad your plumbing is working:)

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Shauna said...

Plumbing snafus aside, it sounds like the perfect weekend bash, really.
You know, it always rains on the Queen's birthday (and I suppose this qualifies, since it's celebrating the old biddy's rebirth!).
The party game was brilliant!

4:02 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Yea, for the plumbing! It can be the most infuriating thing in a house. And I agree, you are brave. Throwing a party in house that may or may not have plumbing. Yikes!

6:46 PM  
Blogger John said...

Thanks everyone. Yes, we did get ticks. Well my wife and I did. I can't speak for everyone else.

Later in the evening the rain let up, so there was a bit of in & out of the house then. Since we haven't poisoned yet this year, it is quiet possible we picked the the ticks up just walking in from the car.

5:53 AM  
Anonymous lisajo said...

You need to frame a little tiny picture of Cindy and hang it above the toilet. Or just name that toilet Cindy. "Honey, Cindy's backed up again." "It's your turn to clean Cindy" "Is that Cindy running?"

I think all toilets need names. We're friendly enough with them.

4:35 PM  

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