The modest 1.5-story home in Aberdeen’s “Felony Flats” neighborhood, bought by Don and Wendy Cobain for $7,950 in 1969, went on sale for $500,000 this week. Its major features include a nice yard, attached garage and memories of the dead boy who used to live there.
Kurt Cobain was 2 ½ then. He lived in the home until 1976 when his parents divorced, moving with his dad to Montesano. He returned to the home with his mom during his high school years and then left to wander, mostly as a dispirited homeless teen, in 1984. He found himself through music and lost himself in drugs. At age 27 in 1994, for his final image of life, the Seattle rocker chose to remember the barrel of a shotgun.
Cobain’s mother, Wendy O’Connor, lists the remodeled vintage (circa 1923) home at 2010 E. 1st Street in Aberdeen for a half million, even though it was last assessed at $67,000. She thinks buyers will be lured by its celebrity value. Cobain’s sister Kim told the Associated Press that “We’ve decided to sell the home to create a legacy for Kurt, and yes, there are some mixed feelings since we have all loved the home and it carries so many great memories. But our family has moved on from Washington, and [we] feel it’s time to let go of the home.”
It’s not clear why anyone would pay over-the-top dollar for a home the Nirvana star did not exactly treasure. In the words of his biographer, Charles Cross, “It was a middle-class house in a middle-class neighborhood, which Kurt would later describe as ‘white trash posing as middle-class.’”
It was not even the first home where Cobain lived. That small house, wedged in behind another small house, was on Aberdeen Avenue in next-door Hoquiam, a few blocks from where I once lived – Cobain might call it an upper-middle white trash neighborhood. For that matter, Cobain lived at three other addresses around the community, not counting his dad’s Montesano home, the cardboard boxes he slept in, or the bridges he slept under.
Then again, if his mother successfully cashes in on her son’s fame as a former resident, perhaps the other home owners could too. That could cause a minor real estate boom to the busted Gray’s Harbor economy. Already, I noticed, one of the neighbors at Cobain’s former East 1st Street home is hoping for a residual payoff in the sale of his own home. As he writes in his seller’s description:
“Next door to Kurt Cobain’s of Nirvana fame childhood home. They are going to list his home for 500k and may make it into a museum so the 1212 house may be worth double the estimate or the 66k tax appraisal…Tourists from around the world taking pictures of the house next door are so nice and interesting.”
Is there an up market for former Cobain homes? He and wife/rocker Courtney Love paid $1.13 million in 1994 for the Lake Washington mansion where Cobain killed himself three months later. Love, after tearing down the tourist-luring crime-scene garage where he died, sold the property in 1997 for almost $2 million more.
Memories have their resale value. As Ed McKee, then the owner of Cobain’s onetime Montesano residence put it in a 2002 interview with the Seattle Times, “Walking through the house, I feel like his music has a little more meaning.”
He bought the home a year earlier for $42,500, and then put it up for auction on eBay. “Our idea was that possibly someone would want to buy it for more than its market value because Kurt lived there and they want to live there.”
McKee sold it for $210,000 – about five times its real estate value. One of the 50 bids was for $40 million. That was a joke. Apparently.