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, May 15, 2008

Home Improvement Chiaroscuro

As I mentioned in my comment to the previous post, my obsession with the economy and personal finances has a lot to do with the Devil Queen. Once we signed a construction loan to cover what turned out to be the initial costs of moving and rebuilding the Queen, we surrendered most of our financial freedom as well. It is embarrassing to admit, but we actually thought that the initial costs would actually cover the whole project. We were just too green to know better.

The Devil Queen is a cautionary tale. In an exercise of home improvement chiaroscuro, I thought that I might give you a fine example of what you ought to do with an old home. I think the deep, hope-killing darkness that is the Devil Queen only makes this bright example shine even more.

In particular, consider this:

"Below is the short list of what I’ve done in the last 6 years. All work needing it, is done with permits, inspected, and meets code.

Remodeled 2 apartments over the garage, and I have great tenants
Removed 3 bathrooms and 3 kitchens (rentals)
Removed 2 story addition
Rebuilt 2 porches
All new wiring from the poll on, with new sub-panels and main disconnect
All new copper water lines from the curb on and several new drains
All new phone lines, CATV, and coaxial from the poles on (work in progress)
Restored kitchen and bathrooms, including building my own cabinets
Stripped off asbestos siding and restored exterior detail
Had all of the missing interior and exterior trim remilled out of salvaged old-growth redwood.
Stripped exterior to bare wood and repainted
Built a laundry room
Stripped all of the wallpaper and old flooring back to bare plaster and original floors
Stripped all of the paint out of 4 rooms – all with LOTS of woodwork
Removed all of the 1920s partitions and rebuilt walls
Cleaned a “shooting gallery” out of the attic
Purchased antique lighting for the entire house (mostly rewired and installed)
Purchased antique tile for the 2 fireplace hearths
Purchased antique doorknobs, mortise locks, and hinges for all of the doors
Purchased antique Eastlake doors for the entire house
Plus 1.4 zillion other little things

The last 6 years have been a blur, but really a lot of fun. To date my total debt is $9,000 on a $20,000 home equity line of credit. Four thousand of the $9,000 debt went for dental work and taxes 2 years ago. My 2 credit cards carry a zero balance. There are a lot of things about my life that I’m not proud of, but boy, this is not one of those."

I'm impressed. In any case, congratulations for a job very well done Greg.

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Blogger Greg said...

Wow, John, thanks for the mention. I was lucky, no question. It was one of those stars and planets aligning kind thing with me and The Petch House. As I said in the post, it could have turned out very, very bad. And since its not over, I guess it still could.

6:21 PM  
Blogger kingstreetfarm said...

Hey, John, if it's any consolation at all, I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of house renovators are closer to your situation than to Greg's!
Sometimes I wonder why we all thought this whole home renovation thing would be "fun" or you know, "possible", but I truly believe that in the end it's going to be worth it. If there ever IS an end, of course.

Whenever we get discouraged, we look back at the photos of the first time we saw our house, and then walk around the house a little bit to remind ourselves of how far it's really come. If you look back over your own progress on the Queen, I think you'd find that you have made some amazing strides. It takes guts, and you have them.

9:54 AM  
Blogger John said...

"As I said in the post, it could have turned out very, very bad. And since its not over, I guess it still could."

So true, good luck.


Very true. And, regarding the guts, thanks!

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