Nonprofit has until June 1 to raise $300,000 to buy Jack Kerouac’s St. Pete house

The goal is to turn it into a writer’s retreat that honors the late beat author
The house at 5169 10th Ave. N, St. Petersburg, was Jack Kerouac's home in his final years.
The house at 5169 10th Ave. N, St. Petersburg, was Jack Kerouac's home in his final years. [ Times (2017) ]
Published May 21, 2020|Updated May 21, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — The on-again, off-again sale of Jack Kerouac’s St. Petersburg home to a nonprofit that wants to turn it into a writer’s retreat honoring the author might be off — again.

In January, John Shen-Sampas, son of the On The Road author’s late-brother-in-law, agreed to sell the home he owns at 5169 10th Ave N. to Jack Kerouac’s House of St. Pete Inc. for $300,000.

But that offer expires on June 1 and there is no sign that an extension will be given.

Pat Barmore, president of the nonprofit, says that only a few thousand dollars has been raised so far.

Young Jack Kerouac.
Young Jack Kerouac. [ Times (undated) ]

“We are trying our best,” Barmore said. “But between COVID and the stock market and not being able to hold fundraisers, this is not the environment to come up with the money. We still have a few leads and are trying to find an angel to buy the house and hold it as collateral until we can raise the money.”

Donations can be made at

Barmore does not know if Shen-Sampas has another buyer lined up.

“He has been very nice during this whole thing,” Barmore said. “It’s his house and he has a drop-dead date he is sticking too.”

Asked if June 1 was still the deadline, Shen-Shampas replied via email, “We are still working on it.”

Related: Jack Kerouac found the end of his road in St. Petersburg 50 years ago

Kerouac moved to St. Petersburg in 1964 with his third wife and his mother. He died from cirrhosis of the liver on Oct. 21, 1969, at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Kerouac’s brother-in-law, John Sampas, was deeded the home in 1990 when the writer’s widow died.

Starting in 2013, Barmore led a different nonprofit, Friends of the Kerouac House, that served as caretaker of the house while taking steps to restore the aging structure and pursue status for it as a historic landmark.

Then Kerouac’s brother-in-law took away their keys and hired a property manager.

Through it all, the nonprofit continued to negotiate. They have nearly finalized a deal on a few occasions, but always came up short.

Sampas died in 2017 and left the house to his son. The nonprofit estimates it needs another $200,000 for repairs and remodeling.

The Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s website lists the market value of the one-story, 1,750-square-foot home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms at $181,056.

“I’ve been chasing this squirrel in the street for years,” Barmore said. “We’re scrambling to do our best. Hopefully an angel steps up.”