The small, yellow house doesn’t look much different from the others lining First Street in Aberdeen. The screen door is slightly torn and the blinds are shut, but the paint looks fresh and the garden well-tended.
The front door opens to a dimly-lit living room fitted with 1970s-era carpet and a faux-brick fireplace. There’s only one bathroom, fitted with an old claw-foot bathtub, and one of the bedrooms features torn wallpaper with pictures of balloons and clowns.
But the house’s value may rest in a dingy attic bedroom with a sloped ceiling. The wall is dotted with graffiti — mainly stenciled band names — and a hole made by an angry teenager.
The bedroom once belonged to famed Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, Aberdeen’s most famous son. The house was put on the market Wednesday for $500,000, his family hoping that someone will see Cobain’s boyhood home as valuable. The Grays Harbor County Assessor’s Office valued the house at $67,000 during a 2009 assessment.
Realtor Nancy Taylor said the listing price was set by Cobain’s mother, Wendy O’Connor, who still owns it, but now lives in Hollywood, Calif.
“I’m not sure if someone will pay that much for it, but I hope so,” Taylor said. “But if somebody is going to pay $500,000 for it, they’re going to keep it just the way it is.”
“I would just hate to see it dismantled and taken up to Seattle or something,” she added.
Charles R. Cross, author of Cobain biographies Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain and Cobain Unseen, said the house hasn’t changed much since Cobain lived there. Cross said it’s a rare, verified artifact from Cobain’s life.
“This house, all the writing on the wall in that bedroom, that’s Kurt,” Cross said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
Cobain lived in the house for about 10 years, Cross said. His parents purchased the modest home when Cobain was about 2 years old, and he lived there until his early teen years when his parents divorced. Cobain moved to Montesano with his father, Donald Cobain, and later moved back to the Aberdeen house.
“It was the home he lived in the longest,” Cross said. “But he lived in about 20 different houses. His life was one of transient nature.”
Although Cobain had many happy childhood memories of the house, his time there was also marked by sadness. Cross said his parents’ divorce was particularly hard on Cobain. “For most people, the house you grow up in has some warm, fuzzy feelings,” Cross said. “For Kurt, it was more complicated. There was definitely trauma that happened there.”
Tori Kovach, a Cobain enthusiast and creator of the Kurt Cobain Landing park near the Young Street bridge, said he’d like to see the building preserved as a landmark — and even suggested that the city purchase it. He said Cobain fans from all over the world would visit.
“Living here, I see tons of Cobain fans coming by,” Kovach said of his house adjacent to Kurt Cobain Landing.
“To simply experience this postage stamp piece of property that I’ve turned into a park, people come from all over the world,” Kovach said. “We get people from India and China, Australia and New Zealand. People from everywhere.”
The house has been vacant for about two years, and Cobain’s uncle, Clark Giese, an Aberdeen resident, has been looking after the property. He and his wife Janis Giese, O’Connor’s sister, lived down the street when Cobain was a child. “He was just a nice kid,” Clark Giese said.