Reporting Bud Gillett
IRVING (CBS 11 NEWS) - A little-known piece of history in Irving is about to open to the public. The home where Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald stayed on the night before President John F. Kennedy was killed is being restored to its 1963 look and will become a museum. For some nearby neighbors the house has been a tourist curiosity for generations.
“Every day there’s a car, there’s someone that comes by,” says Priscilla Lewis, who was a new neighbor across the street from where the Oswalds spent their last night together. She tells CBS 11 News that people from all over the world have come there to look for nearly 50-years.
“They get the tripod out occasionally and take pictures and look in the house. She adds, “I just never have understood the big interest in that house, really, but—it’s just going to be like it’s always been.”
Nancy Taylor grew up down the street. She tells us her uncle, Sonny Boyd, was a police detective who helped in Oswald’s arrest, and shows a famous photo of him with Oswald.
“I think it’s pretty cool that I grew up where Lee Harvey Oswald lived and there’s some history there with my uncle capturing him. It’s pretty neat to me.”
Marina had moved to Dallas ahead of Oswald and was staying in Irving with a housewife named Ruth Paine. Oswald saw Marina on weekends but came to the home that Thursday night before his date with infamy.
Kevin Kendro is Irving’s Archives Coordinator. “This is the room where Lee Harvey Oswald came and visited Marina,” he tells CBS 11 News as he gives us a guided tour of the house, still under construction.
The city of Irving owns the house and is restoring it to its 1963 look. The only out-of-place item is a central air conditioner; the original home had a window unit.
“There is an enduring interest in the assassination story,” Kendro says. “It’s one of the few things in Irving that really had sort of an affiliation with a national historic event.”
The house changed hands and was updated several times over the years. Now it’s being restored. Irving had to tear down walls and custom-order period picture windows; it pulled up wood flooring and replaced it with carpet of the era. It was fortunate that one of the things still untouched in the house was the original knotty pine wood used in the cabinetry and on wood paneling.
Ruth Paine, who left the house in 1966, came back from California to advise on how to make things authentic. The museum will be from her point of view.
“We want to tell the story from the perspective of Ruth Paine, the Irving housewife, who through just an act of kindness ended up right in the middle of the national spotlight in one of the most historic and tragic events in the history of the country…one day she takes her kids out, comes back at lunch and all of a sudden you’re in the middle of the biggest story of the century.”
It’s hoped to be ready by October. Kendro says tours will be arranged in groups of twelve from a nearby visitors center in hopes of keeping vehicle traffic off the neighborhood streets. He adds Marina Oswald, now Marina Oswald Porter, has not been approached about the project in order to help her maintain her privacy. But he is open to hearing from her if she has any suggestions or would like to help.
For more information on the museum, Kevin Kendro can be reached at 972.721.3729.
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