On September 11, 2005, the childhood home of the rock star Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) is moved from Seattle's Central Area to Renton. The move ends a four-year struggle over the house between the City of Seattle and the James Marshall Hendrix Foundation, which was started by Jimi's brother, Leon Hendrix, and other Hendrix fans.
A Seattle Family
During the 1950s, Jimi and his younger brother Leon lived in this house with their parents, Al and Lucille. The family struggled with poverty and other problems and this was the last home in which the brothers lived together with both their parents. Lucille later died of causes related to alcoholism.
Al Hendrix died in 2003, and his death touched off a family feud between Leon Hendrix and his stepsister Janie, who inherited most of the Jimi Hendrix estate. Janie is the daughter of Al Hendrix's second wife, and continues to market Jimi Hendrix's music and related items. She was not involved with the house.
Moving and Removing
The two-bedroom house, about 900 square feet, had been moved once before, in 2001, when it was relocated from 2603 S Washington Street to 2010 S Jackson Street, a few blocks from its original address. There a chain-link fence encircled it and the weeds grew. It became a destination for vagabonds and drug addicts. The City of Seattle threatened to demolish the structure unless it could be moved to a suitable location.
The house's new site in Renton was in a mobile home park directly across from the cemetery where Hendrix is buried. Pete Sikov, a real estate investor and the treasurer of the foundation, bought the site for $1.8 million. The move cost an additional $30,000. The house was towed in the middle of the night to avoid traffic and arrived at its new home at dawn.
Plans Without Action
Sikov and the foundation planned to remodel the house to look like it was when Jimi and his brother Leon lived there. It was to be used as a music education center, with libraries and music studios for children. But after four years passed with no further development, Renton city officials ordered that the Hendrix home be torn down. It was razed in March 2009.
"We thought it was a worthwhile gamble for the city to try and make it go," Renton director of development services Neil Watts told The Seattle Times. "I mean, the number one question our Chamber of Commerce gets is, 'Where is Jimi Hendrix buried?'" ("Jimi Hendrix Childhood Home ..."). But the boarded-up house had become "an eyesore," Watts said. "We had this fairly ugly structure on a main arterial" ("Jim Hendrix Childhood Home ...").
Hendrix biographer Charles R. Cross lamented the demise of the home where Jim Hendrix lived from ages 10 to 13. "It's all a shame; too bad no city body stepped up to the plate to save the place Jimi lived in," Cross told the Times. "Let's be blunt: He's the most famous guy to ever be born in the city of Seattle" ("Jim Hendrix Childhood Home ...").