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!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ventilating One Window at a Time

I've been spending more time on my art lately than the house. I think the balance is getting ready to swing back the other way though.

The electrician still has not made it out to the Devil Queen to check on the AC so no official word on what went wrong.

While the weather has been gorgeous (minus that veiled threat of winter's imminent approach), the house stays much cooler if you can open more than one window and a screen door. Technically, you could open more but since they don't have screens this isn't too attractive of an option. Think Hitchcock's "The Birds" except with moths, wasps, mosquitoes, and feral cats. Sure, it would be pretty exciting, but I don't know that I'd call that fun.

You'd think that installing a storm window would be a quick, simple procedure. Simple, yes. Quick, no.

The storm windows we have came with the Devil Queen and they were probably installed in the 1980's. They are metal, aluminum I'd guess. They are coated or painted in a dark brown-gray which isn't terribly attractive, but I've seen much worse.

We call them storm windows, but they are a screen/storm combination. The top panel is a fixed window while the bottom glass panel can be raised or lowered over a screen. This setup negates any benefit you'd get from using the top double-hung window. And, unlike traditional storm windows which hang on brackets and are fastened to the frame with a hook or similar device, these screw directly into the exterior window frame. This is more invasive than I'd like, but they do seal well. Come January, the season of infernal drafts (remember your Dante, Hell is cold), this will be very important. I'd personally like to be able to sit in my living room without my clothes whipping about me in a stiff wind.

And, another important consideration is we can't afford to replace these, so they will have to do for the foreseeable future.

Now, there are several reasons why it's taking so long to get these buggers back in the full-coverage position.

1) They have been stored under the back porch for roughly a year and a half. The windows were custom made for the house, so you have to sort through the stack with a tape measure to find one that will fit the particular window you are covering. The widths vary between 22 inches (the three windows that make the front bay window), random 27 inches and the standard 28 inch ones.
2) Since they have been in outdoor storage, they are filthy. Mostly dirt, saw dust, and general filth but there are some suspicious stains probably left by rodents, dead bugs, living, bugs, spider webs, et cetera.
3) To clean the windows, you have to remove the lower, sliding window pane.
4) Once you've cleaned the storm, you have to clean the exterior of the window itself. This includes scraping paint over-spray off too. Here is one tip, it comes off much easier if you spray the window down with Windex first and then scrape it clean with a razor. I don't know if it is the solvent action or if it lubricates the surface like shaving cream or what. In any case, the paint just glides off.
5) Since our genius Zombie Painter #2 did such a fabulous job of painting the windows shut, I have to cut and pry the windows open.

After performing all of the steps above, I can finally install the window. If I'm lucky, there is just a little bit of daylight left when I finish.

With the exception of the storm that fits over the transom of the original back door, I have installed all the storm windows accessible from the back porch. Now, to install the remaining storm windows, the process will become even more complicated. I'll have to add the following steps:

1) Re-glaze the window panes.
2) Touch-up, paint, or re-paint the window before proceeding with the list above.

Again, none of this is rocket science, but it is time consuming and boring. I'm not a fan of either. I'll probably do Gideon's windows next and then the living room and dining room windows. These are the draftiest ones in the house, so I'd like to get them finished first.

One additional benefit to getting the storms up is that it has really cut down on the number of bugs in the house. Gotta love that.

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Blogger Jayne said...

I have the same type of storm windows on my house. I hate them. And mine have no screens, which doesn't matter since all the windows are painted shut anyway.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

My husband left the window in our (upstairs) bedroom open a few inches at the top without moving the screen to the top. We had a bat in our bedroom for over 24 hours, before
we knew for sure what it was. Then I had to deliver a rousing, machismo-inducing exhortation in the wee hours to get him to chase the intruder away. You have wisdom beyond your years (or else we're just stupid!)

4:05 PM  
Anonymous susan said...

I rented a historic home in Oklahoma City years ago with 2 friends. What was unique was that all but a few rooms had window on three walls. We figured that was to be able to get the most ventilation. After seeing the bills to AC a 3000 sq ft house, we took full advantage of opening windows when possible. Since most windows did not have screens, we found some screens that you pop in and expand to the sides, then lower the sash. I would not want to use them permanently in a nicely remodeled house but for a temporary fix or for a renter, they are a great option.

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