Jack Kerouac's House


Jack Kerouac's last living residence is located in the Disston Heights Neighborhood, at 5169 10th Ave N. Kerouac actually lived in St. Petersburg, Florida twice in his life. He lived at the house next door, at 5155 10th Ave N. in 1964 and 1965, moving away to a house on Cape Cod for the next few years before coming back here in September of 1968.

Although he moved here at his mother’s insistence, because of her ill health, Kerouac really felt as if he might be able to lay low for a while and avoid some of the more unpleasant aspects of his fame.

This home was purchased for $50,000 from Tex and Nell Burrows. Tex built the house for Nell and their daughter, and they were good friends with the entire Kerouac family when they lived next door. When Jack moved back in 68, he found out they were divorcing and the house was up for sale, so he purchased it and drove down here in the fall of 1968.

To finance the move, he sold some of his letters from Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg to the University of Texas, then sold another letter from William s. Burroughs to Columbia University. In a letter that Willam Burroughs wrote to his young son, he mentioned that these letters sold for between $7 and $8000, and reminded him to keep everything he ever sent him.

When the Kerouacs moved here in 1968, he was not happy about it. In Hyannis, they were living in a nice, upscale neighborhood and there were lots of artists and writers living in the small towns nearby.

In fact, two of those artists threw a party for he and Memere the night before they left, and Jack took off from the party and disappeared for two days. They found him passed out, facedown in a field a few miles away.

When they did arrive, driving down with his mother laid out in a mattress in the back of the car, both of them drinking steadily the entire day, Jack promptly called his friend Cliff Anderson and they went to Cliff’s cabin, where Jack tripped on acid and slept for six weeks.

Life in this house wasn’t very pleasant for any of the three inhabitants. Jack was lonely and drinking more than ever, and racked up long distance phone bills of $1000 or more a month. Stella was away from her family and, when she wasn’t working as a seamstress at Webb’s City, she was taking care of Memere¸ who was paralyzed and needed round the clock care.

Memere at this time was drinking heavily as well, and both women were worried about Kerouac’s carousing, probably their one true bond.

After Kerouac’s death, Stella and Memere lived in the home together. Memere passed away in 1973, just four years after Jack, and Stella remained in the home until 1990, when she too passed away. In 2004, a legal battle over the estate, and Kerouac’s literary legacy, came to a head when a Pinellas County judge, who was a character in his own right (former roommate of Jim Morrison’s and also the judge on the Terri Shiavo case) ruled that Memere’s will leaving everything to Stella had been forged. Unfortunately, Kerouac only has one living relative, his nephew Paul Blake, whom at the time was an alcoholic living in the front seat of his truck in a junk yard out west somewhere.

The home was managed by the executor of Kerouac’s estate, Stella’s brother John Sampas until his death in 2017(Article about John Sampas on SFGate.com).

The home was inherited by Sampas' adopted son John-Shen Sampas then leased for two years to The Friends of Jack Kerouac House, Inc from 2018-2020. Our charity was ultimately unable to raise the funds for Sampas' asking price and the house was sold in June of 2020 to Flip Side LLC for $220,000 (Article in TB Times about sale of the house). Flip Side restored the house and sold it in November of 2020 to Ken and Gina Burchenal for $360,000.

Now we are going to take a short trip up what we’ve come to call the Trail of Tears, which is this short strip of 10th Ave. right here to what is now the 49th Street Walgreens.

Jack Kerouac is buried in Lowell, MA., but before his body was shipped back to his hometown, a wake was held here. His mother, Memere, was paralyzed, so Cliff Anderson, the young man who used to race Kerouac and let him sleep off the effects of an acid trip in his cabin, pushed Memere up this hill to the John Rhodes Memorial Home, where a small group of friends and family sent Kerouac on his way.

Research provided by Margaret Murray and James Hartzell.