Tempe homeowners own piece of McCain history - East Valley Tribune: News

Tempe homeowners own piece of McCain history

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Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2008 7:11 pm | Updated: 8:42 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

It's not quite Abraham Lincoln's rustic log cabin, but two men are excited that their Tempe house may one day bear the honor "President McCain slept here."

On a day when the expected GOP presidential nominee found himself in trouble for failing to remember how many homes he owned, the current owners of a house occupied by Sen. John McCain more than 20 years ago acknowledged they made their purchase unaware a piece of history was included.

Former residence of Sen. John McCain in Tempe, Rural Rd., Baseline Rd., McClintock Dr., Guadalupe Rd., Loop 101, U.S. 60, Superstition Freeway, Price Freeway, Elliot Rd. Map by Jayson Peters/EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE

"It was a shock to us," Marshal Collins said Thursday.

Collins and Jeff Grillion, young mortgage consultants, said McCain's residency never came up before they closed on the foreclosed two-story house in April. Neighbors over their back fence were the first to pass on the news, and from then on whenever they met others living on Lamplighter Lane in The Lakes subdivision they heard it again and again.

"They'd say, 'You'd never believe who used to live there,' " Grillion said.

Collins admitted they possess no proof that under their roof once lived the man who may become the 44th president of the United States of America.

But the Maricopa County Recorder does hold the conclusive evidence. A warranty deed from 1987 shows the home being sold by Eagle Enterprises, whose general partner is listed as James W. Hensley - McCain's father-in-law.

How McCain came to live at 921 E. Lamplighter Lane and how he left are both interesting footnotes in his political career.

According to biographer Robert Timberg, in early 1982 McCain needed an East Valley residence, and quickly. Republican Rep. John Rhodes was stepping down from a long career in Washington, and McCain wanted that seat.

But McCain lived in Phoenix, outside the boundaries of what was then the 1st Congressional District. So wife Cindy went to work.

As Timberg states in his book, "John McCain: An American Odyssey," on the very day of Rhodes' news conference announcing his retirement, Cindy bought the Lamplighter house.

And in late 1986, before McCain was voted into his first term in the Senate, a report from The Associated Press revealed he planned to move after the election and wanted that news kept quiet.

A reporter had found permits filed with the city for the remodeling of Cindy's childhood home in north-central Phoenix. Oddly, the permits were submitted under the name "Smith" - the maiden name of Cindy's mother - rather than McCain.

This is all news to Collins and Grillion. Instead, the two are more focused on what could be a hefty return when they sell the house that real estate Web sites say they bought for $335,320.

"We've been told by real estate professionals this could add $100,000 in value," Grillion said.

But a real estate scholar doubts that.

"It's not going to add anything like that at all," said Jay Butler of Arizona State University Polytechnic. "This was not a meaningful home in his life."

Butler noted that the McCains had a difficult time two years ago selling their own house, on North Central Avenue in Phoenix, where they moved after leaving Tempe.

Nevertheless, Collins and Grillion said the house will soon be on the market: 4be/3ba, pool, fireplace, former home of a presidential candidate.

Said Collins: "We're definitely going to use that."

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