Plan to Restore Woody Guthrie's Childhood Home Falters

BY Alex HudsonPublished Jun 20, 2014

In recent years, folk legend Woody Guthrie has been remembered with multiple tribute albums, a box set, museum in Tulsa, and even a Johnny Depp-assisted novel. Unfortunately, however, a plan to restore his childhood home in Oklahoma is faltering.

The original house in Okemah, OK, was torn down in the '70s, but some builders planned to reconstruct the 1960s-era building. They hoped to turn it into a museum, with adjacent picnic areas and RV parking to attract visitors from the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, which takes place in the small town.

They were going to fund the $600,000 project by selling Gibson guitars made using lumber rescued from the original site. Eight guitars were made, with two going up on eBay and the others hopefully being sold to museums or private buyers. They thought the guitars would fetch six figures, but the instruments failed to sell on eBay.

Contractor Dan Riedemann and project fundraiser Johnny Buschardt each blamed the other in interviews with the Associated Press; Riedemann said that Buschardt hadn't properly publicized the sale, while Buschardt said that Riedemann was being greedy.

Riedemann said that Buschardt "screwed up auctioning off the guitars." On the other hand, Buschardt said, "When the guitars didn't sell and the money wasn't there, that's when we started going from strained to downright acrimonious. We're hoping Dan comes to his senses."

Both men claim to still be a part of the project, although Riedemann said that Buschardt was fired. There's no word as to who actually owns the guitars.

While Guthrie's granddaughter Annie Hays Guthrie had previously supported the plan, this squabble has changed her outlook. "It's unfortunate," she said. "Maybe we're not ready for the house right now."

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