I’ve lived in Seattle for almost 10 years now and had never before stopped by this morbidly famous site. Kurt and Courtney’s old house, the spot where Kurt took his life (unless you’re into the conspiracy theories about his death) and Viretta Park are right beside each other along Lake Washington Boulevard. Viretta Park is a tiny little lot that has only two benches, one of which is used as a shrine to Kurt. On this, the 21st anniversary of his death, I found the time to go to the house and the park next door.
These days, the house is hidden mostly by vegetation and a big front gate. The above-garage apartment / greenhouse where Kurt took his life was demolished back in 1996.
Viretta Park is to the left, the house, obviously, is to the right.
You can get a little closer to the house by walking down a well-worn path in the park, but there still isn’t much to see from there.
The bench is probably the only real “site” to see. Seattle parks repaints the bench, but it doesn’t take long for it to fill up again with Kurt’s lyrics, photos of Kurt, fan letters, flowers, picks and graffiti.
The closest relic of those days comes in the form of this tree, which someone had carved “RIP” and the date into – sometime in either 1997 or 1998. The tree hasn’t yet fully healed, much like the fans visiting the bench today – still listening to the music and wondering “what if.”
His friend and Nirvana bandmate Krist Novoselic summed it up in an interview years later:
He just… he just shouldn’t have done that.
If you’re interested in going back in time for a bit, the photos of the scene should do it for you and if you’re really interested in the gory details, Find a Death is your answer. Warning: Find a Death has some links to some stuff you might not want to see.