- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The man from Hope is now on EBay. Or his bedroom is, anyway.

Former President Bill Clinton’s boyhood home is up for sale on the Internet-based bargain basement. It’s not exactly a log cabin, but its termite policy is up to snuff and the range and dishwasher will convey.

The little white house at 321 E. 13th St. in Hope, Ark., is available to the highest bidder — and there were more than 130 of them yesterday — for about $216,000.

The 950-square-foot, three-bedroom, one-bath bungalow, which was home to Mr. Clinton from 1951 to 1953, has belonged to Hope resident Gary Johnson for a decade.

The property is being sold, he says, “as is.”

But Mr. Johnson — who is actually president of the more high-profile Clinton “birthplace home” foundation over on South Hervey Street — simply has outgrown the house where a 6-year-old Bill Clinton once capered about in a Hopalong Cassidy cowboy suit.

“It’s very, very small. We’d love to keep it, but it’s just not financially practical at this time,” Mr. Johnson’s mother, Elaine, said yesterday.

Though Mr. Clinton’s $170 million presidential library complex in Little Rock will open this fall in expansive and expensive style, the tiny “boyhood home” is way down on the priority list.

The former president’s “birthplace home” foundation has accrued about $600,000 in donations — including $10,000 from Barbra Streisand to restore its gardens — and is open to the public for a $5 admission fee.

But Mr. Johnson is a realist.

“I don’t see that the money is there to buy it for a foundation like the birthplace home,” Mr. Johnson told the Hope Star newspaper Tuesday. “We paid twice what it was worth 10 years ago; and, as a little, bitty house in Hope, it’s not worth very much.”

The Clinton cachet is on the wane, Mr. Johnson observed, along with interest in the house.

“I just don’t see anybody local being interested in it. The Clinton Foundation has their hands completely tied with their project. The city has their hands full. In all the years we have lived there, I have never had anyone come to me and say in a serious sense, ‘We need to make this a tourist site, too,’” Mr. Johnson said.

But hope springs eternal.

Mr. Johnson’s EBay description lists the home’s attributes, along with some tidbits that might not make historical accounts.

Mr. Clinton broke his leg “while trying to jump rope with his cowboy boots on,” Mr. Johnson wrote, and spent hours playing with a Lionel train set. A bullet — purportedly fired by Mr. Clinton’s father, Roger, during an off moment — is said to “still be lodged in the wall underneath the paneling” of the main bedroom.

The homeowner has given prospective buyers until April 9 to make their bids.

“All we can do is try to find someone that appreciates it,” he said.

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