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, June 07, 2006

Details

Here is another reason that I love old homes. While I respect the intent of folks who are making new homes that look old (there is even a book on it), there are some things that replicas and salvage just can’t replicate. This picture is a close up of the inside face of our screen door to the back porch. I’m not 100% sure if it is the original screen door, but, based on the hinges and a couple other clues, I really think it is.

If you look closely, you’ll see two arcs etched into the wood (sorry, the flash washed out some of the depth). These arcs were left by one of these.
The top arc is deeper and than the second one. Above the arcs, there are two holes. One is larger than the other. The larger one was first I think. I’m guessing it rotted or wore out, the latch was removed (or fell out) and the second hole was sunk for the latch.

These arcs, as the rest of the screen door, are painted green. This particular shade of green is Army Surplus Green. After World War Two, the US Army sold off or gave away all of its surplus paint (on the East Coast the Navy did the same thing with its Battleship Gray paint). Vestal Boswell couldn’t pass on such a great deal and painted the entire Devil Queen with it (minus the white trim). Our guess is this coat of paint went on some time in the 1950’s. This was the last coat of exterior paint the Queen ever received.

When they painted the Queen, they took the hook-latch off the screen door and never replaced it. How do we know that? If they had replaced the latch, it would have continued to wear at the groove rubbing all the new paint off. The paint in the grooved cracked with age, but it is not worn.

This means that these two arced grooves were etched into the door by constant use over a period of approximately 70 years. Every time Ransom, Amelia, Cassie, Maria, Ransom Jr., Vestal, and everyone else who lived or visited the Devil Queen came or went through this door, they wore it down ever so slightly. It is almost as good as a hand print.

I hope that I’m not jinxing myself, but I’m hell bent on keeping this old screen door. Even if ends up being mostly epoxy, I don’t care. And, I have absolutely no intention of filling in or “repairing” these grooves (the holes have some dry rot so I’ll probably have to clean them out and plug them with putty or epoxy). I’ll probably find a solid place a little higher up on the door and sink in my own latch.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Paul said...

Hear, hear. That post nicely sums up some of my own feelings about old houses.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

The "Old Crackhouse" got blessed with the Battleship Gray paint.
I haven't found any graffiti that says "Go Navy" yet!

6:39 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

I like this post too. I myself much prefer a worn patina or dented old moulding with a sense of history than "everything new".

I think many of us are closet historians and archeologists.

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