Sunday, July 14, 2019

Archivist Bill Pagel Seals the Deal: Now Owns Both Homes Bob Dylan Grew Up In

The former Zimmerman home, Hibbing. Photo: Iron Range Resource Bureau
Bill Pagel is now the proud owner of both houses that Bob Dylan grew up in. A long time collector and Dylan archivist, Bill took possession of the Duluth Central Hillside duplex — first home Bob Zimmerman lived in as a toddler — nearly a decade ago.

That he would eventually own both homes was practically a given. He was living in the house next door to the former Zimmerman home in Hibbing, patiently waiting for the price to come down to something within reason. A few weeks ago he acquired the home.

The former owners, Gregg and Donna French, had owned the home since 1990. Throughout the years they’ve talked to 1000s of fans, musicians and authors who have visited the house. They decided that it’s time to move on.

Celebrating Dylan’s birthday with cake on the front yard of his first
boyhood home till he was six. Young Bobby Zimmerman lived upstairs
in this duplex.  Photo 2016, Duluth Dylan Fest.
This past week as he was moving in a fellow from Canada drove up on a motorcycle and shared an anecdote that might correct a myth about Bob’s relationship with his father Abe Zimmerman. The motorcyclist said that when Abe was alive he had some of his son’s albums in the window of his hardware store. Clearly he had a father’s pride on display there.

Gregg French, who has known Bill Pagel for many years, said that he can think of no better person to become the next caretaker. Bill plans on restoring the home and returning it to the color it was when Bob Dylan, who at the time was known as Bob Zimmerman, lived there from 1948 through 1959.

Bill Pagel
I learned about the sale on a very hot day this past month as three friends from our Duluth Dylan Fest committee helped move a 1930s stove up a flight of stairs. Bill has been in the process of restoring the Duluth house so that the furnishings match the decor which was there with Dylan was a youth. He already owns the actual high chair Bobby Zimmerman used. By using photos from the period he is attempting to match all the other features.

Bill Pagel has been collecting for over 50 years and has exhibited many pieces from his collection in New York, Chicago and Duluth, Minnesota. Currently objects from his collection, including some of Bob Dylan’s handwritten manuscripts, are being shown in Chicago at the American Writer’s Museum and here in Duluth, Minnesota at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum.

Future plans are for both homes to eventually be part of a museum project in Northern Minnesota.

EdNote:  Bill is currently trying to locate another collector who purchased many pieces of the original furniture including Bob Dylan’s bedroom set from the Hibbing home in 1988. He would appreciate hearing from anyone who may have a lead in locating this person. Contact: 

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Related Links
Here’s the Duluth News Tribune account of the recent sale:

Here’s the Rolling Stone version of the news.

Here is what the Central Hillside home looked like in 2010 when he bought it:

For those unfamiliar, Bill Pagel created and maintains, one of the most popular websites in the world for Dylan fans due to his archiving of Dylan’s concert information, setlists, reviews and links to other Dylan-related sites. The site has surpassed 40 million visits since 1995.
To see a list of the 187 countries from where people have visited BobLinks visit this page

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