The central Fresno house that famed Armenian-American author William Saroyan lived in for the last 17 years of his life is in foreclosure and headed to auction in May.
The simple stucco tract home at 2729 W. Griffith Way, just west of Cooper Middle School, has had three different owners since Saroyan’s death in 1981 and has fallen into foreclosure twice, according to Fresno County public property records.
Neighbor Ernie Baca said the house has been used as a rental for years and attracted squatters. Today, the home, which bears a plaque honoring the Oscar and Pulitzer Prize winning author, is empty with some windows boarded up and foreclosure notices hanging on the screen door.
It’s sad to see the house in bad shape and uncared for, said Baca, who was three years old when Saroyan moved into the neighborhood. Mr. Saroyan, as all the neighborhood kids called him, is “a symbolic, historic person in Fresno,” Baca said. “I felt honored to live by him.”
The small, 1,228-square-foot house was built in 1964. It has three bedrooms and one bathroom. When Saroyan owned it, and the house just west of it, fruit trees and weeds grew around the property, Baca said.
Saroyan would pay Baca $30 to water the trees and the weeds when he was away, Baca said with a chuckle. The house was rough like Saroyan who was scruffy with a long mustache, he said.
Baca remembers being invited with the other neighborhood kids into the house next door to watch the player piano that played songs on its own when plugged into an electrical outlet. Saroyan also gave Baca signed copies of his books.
The Saroyan house is on the local register of historic resources. The plaque, which lists 10 pieces of Saroyan’s work written while living in the house, was installed in 1989.
NBS Default Services, LLC, of Long Beach is handling the foreclosure. The house is scheduled to be auctioned off at 10 a.m. May 5 at the Fresno County Courthouse.