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Fire Destroys Aberdeen Museum, Home to Rare Kurt Cobain Memorabilia

A great loss for the iconic Washington grunge scene.

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Aberdeen, Washington, known as the hometown of Kurt Cobain, experienced a devastating fire one week ago that obliterated the Aberdeen Museum of History- and with it, artifacts from the late grunge-rock star’s life.

The welcome sign for Aberdeen, Washington. (Michael Thurston/AFP/Getty Images)

Although no one was in the building at the time of the fire, it took almost 11 hours and 77 firefighters to suppress the monstrous blaze, according to NPR. Aberdeen Fire Chief Tom Hubbard suspects that the fire was caused by a heating or electric malfunction. The 96-year-old Aberdeen Armory not only housed the Museum, but the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society, the Aberdeen Senior Community Center, and the Grays Harbor Community Action Program, as well.

Though the museum held thousands of historical artifacts and documents on the town’s history, the most crushing loss comes to Cobain fans, who would travel from across the world to visit the Nirvana front man’s exhibit, now lost forever to a smoldering fate.

Cobain’s display included tee shirts, artworks, a bench from outside his home in Seattle, and a couch he slept on at his friend’s home in the fall of 1985. Dave Morris, the museum’s director, told Seattle times that the couch was not blocked off, so fans could sit and take photos on the couch as they pleased. 

Morris remembers the flames being 20 to 30 feet high. Drone footage captured the roof of the Armory collapsing, and photos taken by the Aberdeen Fire Department shows the main floor of the Museum reduced to rubble.

This week has been heavily dedicated to salvaging papers and documents from the Armory’s basement, which was exposed to over 4 feet of water during the firefighters’ efforts. For as bad as the fire was, Dann Sears, the museum’s archivist, remains positive.  “Actually, we’re coming out pretty good on this,” he told Seattle Times. It remains unclear just how much of the Cobain artifacts were destroyed in the fire.

The museum was insured for “replacement value of building and contents,” says Aberdeen Mayor Erik Larson, but who could place a dollar value on a town’s complete history, and a legendary rock star’s rare belongings?

“This has been a very hard blow, it’s been very painful for us, but we have to, you know, suck it up and move onto the next step,” Morris told Kix 95.3.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Kayleigh is a senior at the University of Albany studying English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. When not writing articles for CMN or poetry for her own enjoyment, she can be found enjoying time with her family and friends or jamming out to all genres of music.

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