In a fittingly grifty real-estate move, the owners of Donald Trump’s first home in Queens have started a GoFundMe to allow MAGA fans to buy the house as a gift to their man as he leaves office. (Whether he does so voluntarily or not.) The sellers want $3 million, after which they’ll hand the keys to Trump so he can gold-plate it, or turn it into a petite presidential library full of torn-up-and-taped-together memos, or do whatever the hell else he wants with it. As of this afternoon, the campaign to raise that $3 million has taken in $125, which will perhaps cover the electric bill for a week or two.
The building has been bought twice during these grim four years, apparently by buyers who saw it as a potential growth asset. Not long before the inauguration in 2017, it went for $1.4 million, and it was auctioned within months to another buyer — said to be a Chinese investor — for $2.14 million. (Comparable houses nearby sell for considerably less than that.) It was offered at auction again last year and failed to sell, which perhaps explains why the owner’s trying this GoFundMe scheme. You could rent the house as an overpriced Airbnb for awhile, too. Hey, if Tricky Dick’s birthplace is a place to visit, why not Donald J. Trump’s?
It’s at 85-15 Wareham Place in Jamaica Estates, a neighborhood that was once gated (though no longer) and remains pleasant in an affluent early-20th-century-suburb way. Fred Trump, the president’s father, was one of the area’s developers, and this was among the houses he himself put up. The future president lived there only until he was 4, after which Fred and Mary Trump and their family moved to a much larger, vaguely Georgian house nearby. The earlier home, like most of its neighbors, is a Tudor on a smallish lot. Considered strictly as a piece of real estate, it’s nice enough but also old-fashioned, with an unrenovated kitchen and, by today’s standards, dim, cramped rooms.
As a practical matter, making an institutional building out of Trump’s old house would be nearly impossible. A presidential library is large and requires a visitor center and a parking lot. The Wareham Place house is on a residential street, and the neighboring owners would be unlikely to sell their homes as teardowns — not that zoning laws or the community would allow such a thing. There’s really only one other high-traffic house-museum located in a residential neighborhood like this that comes to mind, and it celebrates another down-home multimillionaire celebrity known for ghastly taste, whipping up crowds to a fever pitch, fast-food binges, and fits of splenetic rage. Could this become the Graceland of Queens?