The king of the Beat Generation spent the final years of his life in St. Petersburg. Jack Kerouac lived next door before purchasing the brick residence at 5169 10th Ave. N.
An effort to turn that Disston Heights property into a museum is gaining steam. Kerouac's nephew, John Shen Sampas, assumed ownership of the home in March after his father passed away. Sampas told the Tampa Bay Times he’s on board with the museum mission and wants to honor the author of “On the Road.”
That’s a goal Margaret Murray has spent years working toward. Murray is secretary of a nonprofit called Friends of the Jack Kerouac House.
“Our mission is to preserve and maintain the home and make sure that Kerouac’s history in St. Petersburg is disseminated … focusing on the solitude that he sought here and focusing on the works that he did create while he was here.” Murray said. “One of the most interesting things about Kerouac’s life here is that it’s a snapshot of his life but it also really sheds a light on what St. Pete was like in the 1960s.”
Earlier this month the nonprofit presented a proposal to Sampas. Murray told the Times the University of South Florida, Dalí Museum and St. Petersburg Preservation support the mission.
Without any publicity, fans already flock to the home, leaving Kerouac notes in the mailbox, Murray said. “Having artifacts and a place to really talk about his history, I think it would be a huge draw,” she added. “I feel that this could be a unique draw to St. Petersburg.”