Tag Archives: church remodel

Dr. Neon’s Laboratory – A Church Goes Industrial

11 Rich - KitchenThe skull-and-crossbones warning sign posted at the front gate was the first indication the scheduled tour of Alexander Evans’ home would prove to be an interesting afternoon.

Alexander, perhaps best known as Dr. Neon, resides quite expressively at Farkham Hall — a converted 12,000 sq.ft. church that stood abandoned for years before he purchased it in 2002.  There is nothing normal about Farkham Hall.  But then, for Alexander, normal is highly overrated.

An artist and creator, Alexander approached life with a nothing-is-impossible attitude and a thirst for pushing the envelope.  Neon Dragon-1Fast bikes, fast cars, and bright lights are all part of the script.  He earned the moniker of Dr. Neon by being the first to introduce neon tubing for motorcylces, and later cars.  He’s originally from California where he also created neon art for Disney, MGM, and Twentieth Century Fox.

His affable nature led him to the stage as a stand-up comedian trading wisecracks with the likes of Pauly Shore and the late Sam Kinison.  All thos pursuits would have comprised an impressive resume sufficient for most people.  Alexander, however, was just getting started.  He builds custom bikes, does metal fabrication both commercially and artistically, is a talented wood and silver artist, and built a custom car for Snap-On Tools.  His home, including his 75,000 sq.ft. workshop, is a visual tour of his creative genious.

Wearing camouflage bib overalls and sporting a mischievous grin, he begins the tour in his shop where he and his assistants are preparing for a knife show in Atlanta.  “Welcome to my laboratory!” he says wtih outstretched arms.  He fabricates the knives entirely on-site, from the forging of the blades to the carving of the handles made of elk and deer antlers.  Decorative handcast silver animal replicas adorn each one.Neon - Knife

The shop is abuzz with activity as Alexander continues to give instructions and answer questions.  He admits that the workshop was the property’s big selling point for him because it allows him to live and work in the same place.  Plus, he adds, “I’ve got the best view of the river.”  There is every tool and gadget one could possibly need — all neatly organized (in customized Snap-On Tool chests, of course).  There is even a paint booth where Alexander dos custom auto and bike painting.

Walking back toward the house, Alexander points out his auto collection including two Chevies (a ’57 and a ’54), a ’61 Cadillac, and a ’74 Indy Pace Car.  A quick stop at the garage reveals his motorcycles, including a tricked out Harley.

Farkham Hall, like its owner, is boldly eccentric and fun.  The abandoned church was in bad shape when he bought it, but his ability to visualize things into creation has worked its magic.  “It took two years to clean this place up,” he says.  “it was a mess.”

Neon - EinsteinA neon image of Albert Einstein gazes out over the open living room and kitchen.  Large diamond-shaped, slate-colored tiles cover the floor and draw the eye to the art deco tile work on the fireplace.  A collection of flying pigs and cows hangs happily from ceilings and others are perched on tables giving visitors and idea of Alexander’s whimsical tendencies.

The kitchen is his pride and joy.  An avid cook and gourmand, Alexander ripped out the ceiling and replaced it with corrugated steel that he recycled from the site and illuminated with a fabulous blue neon glow.  He brought in high-end commercial appliances, created custom door pulls, and added beautiful cabinetry in a warm honey color.

11 Rich - Loft ViewThe loft space above the kitchen serves as the master bedroom where Alexander’s collection of tin toys from robots and wind-up cars to noise-making space guns is displayed.  The master bath is huge and features Alexander’s handiwork in the leaded copper shower and personal shaving mirror.

The tour continues down a handcrafted 11 Rich - Dtlspiral steel staircase to what could easily be considered fantasy land.  Here visitors find a large castle Alexander constructed entirely of sugar cubes and featuring hundreds of detailed pewter knights and soldiers he sculpted and cast himself. Neon - Castle On this level are also the “planes, trains and automobiles room, ” the library , and his office.

What used to be classrooms have been converted to work spaces for his neon production, metal casting, and other artistic endeavors.  The former sanctuary is now a grand hall boasting 48-foot ceilings, polished wood floors, and a stage.  He currently holds dance classes there on Wednesday nights and rents out the space for parties and other functions.

Alexander lives life out loud, full of energy and optimism.  His home is a fitting and thoroughly entertaining representation of that life.  At Dr. Neon’s Laboratory, there’s always something going on.11 Rich - Facade 02

Article courtesy of The Laurel of Asheville, July 2009