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Tiger, Nicklaus, Hogan homes: Historical monuments?

Jack Nicklaus birthplace.JPG

(Photo by Lucy Wolfe)

By John Strege

The small tract house, 1,474 square feet, on a tiny corner lot in a nondescript middle-class neighborhood in Cypress, Calif., yields no clues to its historical significance. The old doormat that said "Duffers Welcome" is long gone. So are the divots in the front yard.

Yet if its last occupant is correct, it will one day be a historical monument. It is the house in which Tiger Woods was raised.

"I have prepared this house so that it can be converted into a national historical monument one day," Woods' late father, Earl, told Lawrence Donegan of the British publication "Observer Sport Monthly" in 2002.

If it seems odd that a golfer's childhood home might be considered historic, it is only in the sense that Earl Woods had the foresight to plan on it. Childhood homes of Jack Nicklaus in Columbus, Ohio, and Ben Hogan in Fort Worth, meanwhile, are now drawing attention as potential historical landmarks.

Last week, a story appeared on the website of WOSU, a PBS station in Columbus, Ohio, with the headline: "Inventory Of Historic Structures Underway In Columbus Area." Mentioned in the story was the first house in which Nicklaus lived (pictured above), at 765 Kimball Place.

"It's in a designated historic district," Lucy Wolfe, author of the book, A Historical Guide to Old Columbus, said. "It could get on the National Register [of Historic Places]. That Old Oaks neighborhood has a lot of history."

Charlie and Helen Nicklaus bought the 1,725-square foot, three-bedroom, one-bath house in October 1937 and sold it in March 1941. Jack Nicklaus was born Jan. 21, 1940. The current owners are aware of the home's history, and it would be up to them to submit the application for it to be considered for the National Register, Wolfe said.

Historic Fort Worth, Inc., meanwhile, included a house in which Hogan lived as a boy on its annual list of Fort Worth's Most Endangered Places last year. Jerre Tracy, executive director of Historic Fort Worth, said it would be a candidate as a Fort Worth Historic and Cultural Landmark.

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The house (shown here), at 1316 E. Allen Ave., is not occupied and is current inhabitable, Tracy said. "It's privately owned, so a nonprofit organization would not be able to pick it up," she said. "No one can live in it in its current condition, but it's going to take some money to turn it around. The owners are a lovely family without the resources to do that. That's really where it is."

As for the Woods' home, Earl often talked about keeping it as a shrine. He continued living in the home until his death in 2006, and the family still owns it.

"All the floors in here are granite," Earl told Donegan. "They are not hardwood or any of that other stuff. Granite, the hardest stone. All of the wood you see is walnut. It is built to last, because I am certain that one day the birthplace of Tiger Woods is going to become widely acknowledged."

Diane Barclay, the outreach and communications director for the California Office of Historic Preservation, said "there's always a possibility ... if the site is directly related to a person of history."