Home Sweet Museum: Progress made on Muhammad Ali's childhood home

Home Sweet Museum: Progress made on Muhammad Ali's childhood home
The once dilapidated home is changing fast. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The once dilapidated home is changing fast. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
George Bochetto (Source: WAVE 3 News)
George Bochetto (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It is a labor of love at a cost of a quarter million dollars. After decades of neglect, the childhood home of Louisville legend and humanitarian Muhammad Ali is getting more than just a fresh coat of paint. The home is being restored to look exactly as it did when it was owned by Ali's parents Cassius (Cash) Clay and Odessa Clay.

WAVE 3 News has been following the restoration project from the beginning and we are finally beginning to see big changes coming from the days and hours of hard work.

There was a time if you drove past Muhammad Ali's childhood home you may not have been able to distinguish it from any other abandoned house in the city. There is a historical marker, placed in the front yard in 2012, but now wood, ladders and a chain link fence around the home are also visible.

[RELATED: $250K restoration set for Muhammad Ali's boyhood home]

George Bochetto, one of the homes owners and renovators, spoke with enthusiasm as he guided us through the small home.

"This room was the children's room right here," Bochetto said. "This was the original closet that Cassius Clay and Rudolph Clay used when they were both living in this room."
Bochetto and his team know each inch of the houses floor plan as well as all the artifact they must also find to fill the home before the renovation is complete.

[SLIDESHOW: Muhammad Ali through the years]

It is a modest neighborhood. The small, one story, wood frame home is located at 3302 Grand Avenue in the West end of Louisville.

Bochetto said, "This is where greatness happened. It's a historic landmark."

The once dilapidated home is changing fast. It has now been gutted and the crew is painstakingly putting the home together piece by piece until it feels and looks the 1950's home of the Clay family. 

"I mean it's every bit as significant or more significant as where Elvis Presley grew up or Michael Jackson grew up or any other of our great Americans," Bochetto said.

[RELATED: Woman sends her antique refrigerator to Muhammad Ali home]

The sagging roof, shifting foundation and chipping paint gives it an appearance that is far from glorious.

Bochetto grinned as he proclaimed, "We're returning it to its original condition. This house was once pink in its entirety so of course it will all be pink."

The new owners are not from WAVE Country, but the team they have assembled to restore the home are local and enthusiastic. The pieces to the project are quickly falling into place. The only thing the restored home and museum are missing are 1950 period pieces to place in the home like furniture, lamps and anything else the family would use to make a house a home.

[RELATED: TV production crew joins restoration of Ali's childhood home] 

"We haven't got that. We're still looking for that," Bochetto said as he shook his head. "My vision is to get this exactly as it was in the 50s when the young Cassius Clay and the young Rudy Clay were growing up here."

Bochetto is working so hard to make sure that when visitors walk through the door of the Ali's home it will be like stepping back into time and into the life of the young Clay.

"What was it like to grow up here? What the neighborhood was like and what did the interior of the home look like?" Bochetto said.
They are all questions that will have answers when he opens the door to the public in the next few months.

Bochetto stressed with conviction, "If Muhammad Ali had grown up in some other neighborhood, and in some other set of circumstances his life might have been extremely different. This is where he grew up. This is was his neighborhood."
Muhammad Ali will be given the prestigious Grawemeyer Award on Sept.17, 2015 from the University of Louisville. He hopes to have the project mostly completed when Ali comes to town to accept the award. The Ali's will also host the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards the same week.
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