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, March 26, 2007

Fear. Loathing. Barbecue.

Barbecue, blood, bodies, bonfires, bratwursts, chandeliers, chemical warfare, caulk, cracks, gardening, Lowe's, painting, priming, spray-foam insulation, tequila, wasps, wiring, and what-not. Pictures of the carnage will follow over the next few days. What can I say? We had pretty good weekend even if it was hot enough to make you sweat. It was definitely a lot more like late May and not late March this weekend.

One of the sure signs of a good weekend is the house was a total disaster come Sunday night. I guess we were too busy to bother picking up like we should. Actually, it was a might bit disturbing. We'd just finished watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when I noticed the bowels of the Devil Queen pretty well look like the last hotel room they trash in the movie, not a pretty sight. All I need is a pair of sunglasses, a cigarette holder jammed between my teeth, substitute the polyurethane and stain for ether and I can become the Hunter S. Thompson of Houseblogs. Would that make this Gonzo Home Improvement?

Sunday (or was it Saturday?), we spent a few frantic hours cloistered in the breakfast nook, drinking pot after pot of coffee, and working on the The Plan. Actually, it is a fairly compact affair. Phase One starts tonight. I will attempt to sent the paint scraping endurance record by systematically dry-scraping every flake of nasty, decrepit paint off the our ceilings. The living room will be first. It will be followed by the hallway, the dining room, the rear hall, and the master bathroom ceiling. While I wait for the cramps and seizures subside, I will try to relax by boiling hardware, shellacking, and other small, must-do tinkering chores. If I am partially successful (that would be finishing the first two or three rooms on the list), will be having a "paining party" two weekends from now. The last one was such a success that we are hoping we can replicate the effect and get all the scraped rooms primed and painted. This will get us very close to meeting our bank deadline.

The spray priming (is this the home improvement equivalent of spray on tanning?) of the Devil Queen is nearing completion. We may soon have to commit to a final color selection for the exterior.

Regarding the paint job, the question of the day is, what do the neighbors think? The answer will probably have zero impact on our course of action, but we are curious folk. Ms. Scarlet and I figure that it is a toss-up between:

1) It's about bloody time they painted that piece of shit. Slackers.
2) Wow, they painted it and it still looks awful. Maybe if we're lucky it will be struck by lightning and burn to the ground.

Anyhow, we continue on our journey across the dark underbelly of the American Dream, what the hell ever that means.

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Blogger Sebastian said...

Sounds like a worthwhile weekend.

Just thought i'd let you know that your wonderful houseblog is mentioned on an article at our website,, here:

You happened to be number 20 out 99. I appreciated the honesty and humor of your writing and look forward to reading more. Feel free to link back to my site, or not, as you like.

Good luck with the cleanup.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I'm having to swiftly come to terms with the idea of dry scraping as I'm going to have to do it to all of the exterior woodwork of the house. Any suggestions you have in terms of process would be hugely helpful I'm sure.

Love the Hunter S. Thompson reference - gonzo houseblogging, now there's an idea.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Patricia W. said...

That sounds like a lot of work but you are getting soooo close! I hope The Plan works and you beat the deadline!

12:55 PM  
Blogger John said...

Sebastian, thanks for the link.


Chris, once you accept that there is no good or easy way to strip wood, embracing my dark art becomes much easier. Since I'm scraping the living room ceiling, I'll post some tips for you today or tomorrow.

Mescaline + homeimprovement, how could it get any better?

Patricia, thanks. I hope we do too.

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