In a sea of real-estate listings, in comes the diamond in the rough: the childhood home of a rock star who made it big before ending his life at the age of 27 in 1994. Twenty years later, Kurt Cobain's light hasn't dimmed: His songs are still a touchstone for a new generation of music fans. And his fans are devoted, to say the least -- a cardigan worn by the grunge legend snagged $137,500 at auction last month.
And yet the modest house in Aberdeen, WA, where the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for Nirvana grew up hasn't sold despite its connection to rock royalty. The four-bedroom, one-bath property has been on the market for just under 300 days and is currently owned by Wendy O'Connor, Cobain's mother.
One reason may be the asking price. In August, the price dropped from an initial list price of $500,000 to $329,000, which is still above the value (between $69,000 and $100,000) of comparable neighboring homes in this sleepy town 110 miles southwest of Seattle. Attempts to contact listing agent Nancy Taylor of Aberdeen Realty for comment were unsuccessful.
More than a simple shell of a home once linked to a famous person, a walk-through reveals Cobain's teen angst in an upstairs bedroom. There's evidence of a hole he punched in a wall, and his drawings are scrawled on the room's walls. However, a buyer would need to commit to a major overhaul to update the home's overall dcor.
Or could it become an institution honoring the late rock star? College student Jaime Dunkle yearns to turn the home into a nonprofit museum honoring Cobain as well as a center for at-risk youth. So far, she has raised $2,480 on a GoFundMe page she launched in March of 2014, with a goal of raising $338,900. In this video of her walk-through of the home, Dunkle's obsession with Nirvana is readily apparent.
Despite the city's economic depression and recent drug seizures that have made front-page news, Aberdeen holds appeal for Nirvana fans. This includes the Kurt Cobain Memorial Park. "A significant number of people come to Aberdeen to see where Kurt grew up," says Charles R. Cross, author of last year's Kurt Cobain biography " Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain." He calls Cobain -- and Nirvana -- "one of the last icons of rock."
"[Today's] music is much more diverse and spread out. In Nirvana's era, Kurt combined commercial appeal and sales success, but also, at the same time, critical acclaim. There hasn't been a band since that has those two combinations. Adele is the closest thing. When we hear [Kurt] sing, we feel like we are getting a dose of him, a slice of him," says Cross. Which makes the lack of interest in snapping up a property linked to his formative years even more puzzling.
One reason, says Cross, could be the link to a troubled time in Cobain's life.
"What the house actually represents is confusing. His parents divorced while he lived there, and his mom kicked him out." Or is the price simply beyond the realm of memorabilia?
"Fans pay for Kurt's things, but buying a house is a different thing," says Cross.
He adds, "It makes absolutely no sense that the city of Aberdeen not acquire the house." Even if the city doesn't purchase the property, the Aberdeen Museum of History's website features a self-guided walking tour of "Kurt Cobain's Aberdeen."
Dunkle is just as bewildered.
"Most people who have reached out and said they were interested in helping just kind of vanished," says Dunkle. "To be honest, it's been a little discouraging, but I can't let it break my spirit."