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Bob Wills house for sale on eBay

Monday, June 03, 2013

The for sale sign on the old Bob Wills Three B's Ranch has been up for weeks. But, even at $1 there have been no takers. Granville Homes owner Darius Assemi is now listing the place on eBay. Opening bid is 99 cents.

"We recognize that Bob Wills was a notable figure in country music in this country and our goal is finding someone who is interested in buying this home for a dollar, moving it and preserving it and hopefully everybody will be happy," Assemi said.

A lot of people are not happy. Don Simmons heads Fresno's Historic Preservation Commission. They recently voted to declare the home a historic site. They want it to stay right where it is. Will's daughter told the commission her father wrote songs in the now empty house.

"You move the location and you lose the history of that house." Simmons said.

Country Music Legend Bob Wills bought the house in 1945. He sold it in 1950. Wills and his family lived on the property for just a couple of years. He was on the road touring with his band The Texas Playboys much of the time. After leaving Fresno he opened a nightclub in Sacramento, and frequently played throughout the state before returning to his roots in Texas and Oklahoma.

The history of the home was lost. The previous owners had no idea. They told Action News the house had been occupied and was livable until Assemi bought in in 2006. Over the last 7 years it has been empty, vandalized and stripped and is occupied only by huge hives of bees.

Assemi plans to put two hundred houses on the site, and says the place doesn't fit the neighborhood.

"You have to ask yourself this question, would you want to buy a brand new home next to this house," Assemi said.

Simmons said despite the neglect the house needs to stay where it is. Moving it is only a last resort.

"We'd prefer that is stay in place but if it can't and Granville won't budge we'd like to see it moved somewhere where the community can enjoy it and the nation can enjoy it," Simmons said.

The trouble is, Assemi wants it moved by June 17. Simmons said it's not enough time. But, then, Assemi said he can be flexible.

"If there is somebody serious that steps up and is interested in preserving this home, we will work with them," Assemi said. But he means serious, with plans and money.

Simmons and others involved in historic preservation are scrambling to raise money and support.

"We don't want it to be demolished. The dollar offer is great but who's gonna raise the money to get it moved," Simmons said.

The cost of moving the house is estimated to be $50,000. Assemi said restoring the place is at least another $100,000.

Those who want to preserve the house on site, or move it if necessary, are reaching out to music and historic groups. They've contacted The Bob Wills Heritage Foundation, which maintains a museum in Texas. They have also been in touch with singer Merle Haggard who was a friend of Bob Wills. But the clock is ticking.

Assemi said he is not the bad guy here. He notes the city declared in 2006 that there were no cultural or historic resources at the site. The Bob Wills connection was only discovered a few months ago. But even after it was discovered and after the Historic Preservation Commission voted, the city manager issued a demolition permit.

Assemi, one of Fresno's biggest developers is now free to tear the place down anytime, but says he will wait a while longer.

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